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23 July 2015

Vernacular! Rencontres d’Arles 2015



By nature, the collector’s eye links disparate images that would have remained unknown or misunderstood had it not patiently identified similarities, resemblances, and affinities. In some cases, the art of collecting, by contiguity and concordance, redoubles the mystery of the meaning of the whole. Two or three images can be amusing because of a randomness or a coincidence in the theme or the way they are displayed, but a group of images from a very wide range of sources that show too many similarities is more intriguing and reveals almost a magical spirit, the supernatural, a hidden design.

What Jean‐Marie Donat’s series have in common—precisely because they repeat, retell, show, and depict simple staged scenes—is that, above a certain quantitative threshold, they signify something completely different. The more images of the same thing return and accumulate, the more the emotional and intellectual qualities shift, becoming more distressing, disturbing, disconcerting, troubling, plunging ever deeper into the unhealthy, if not the pathological. The same could not be said about collections of stamps, cars, or sardine tins. The discomfort here has to do with what makes up the photographic material: it is a record of events that actually occurred. Knowing that these photographs are always staged scenes with contrived poses and attitudes makes the viewer feel even queasier. Most are fictional, but the juxtaposition of these images creates an excess of reality that is hard to look at.

Jacinto Lageira, professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, art critic


Publications: BlackFace, TeddyBär, Predator, éditions innocences.net, 2015.
Framing by Circad, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Chapelle de la Charité.