Valérie Belin

21 December 1998

Serie Voitures, Silver print mounted on aluminium, 150 x 120 cm. Ed. 1/3 + 2 P.A.

The photographs by Valérie Belin compete in materiality and physical presence with the very elements she records. Whether objects or subjects, Belin manages to restore and to capture the unique essence defining and surrounding them by using a photographic procedure playing with frontality, the isolation of the subject, lighting and format. An essence that, in Valérie Belin, bears a strong relationship with the almost sculptural treatment she applies to objects, isolating them, focusing on them, studying their formal features, surfaces, volumes, until managing to release some of their material energy. The saturated and autonomous materiality is precisely what speaks to us about a profound breech taking place between object and man. Reduced to the status of mere material icons, they reactivate in us precisely the perception that something is absent from these images: origin and memory of matter. At the sight of the crashed cars, in which each sign of the accident is minutely highlighted, or of the silent, powerful and imposing engines, we are left only with the possibility of questioning ourselves about the nature of what we are seeing. The absence of context and the physical power of their presence is such that we are forced to wonder about the conditions of their existence. An existence directly remitting us to our own reality next to the material. The sight of these engines and cars, crushed after the accident, are a perfect metaphor of the extreme limits within which car culture, and by extension, technological culture, moves: its fetishisation and its failure.