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27 August 2012

Arnaud Claass, The Book of Translations*

This exhibition brings together images from different periods of Arnaud Claass’s oeuvre. The relatively few works are displayed according to affinities rather than chronologically. There are photographs of American big cities in the 1970s and in 1990; others from colour sets from the year 2000; items from his ‘landscape’ period; from his phase exploring feelings; and from his two series on delicate objects and mineral formations. Whether they are themed or given over to a host of different subjects, these sets are evidence of his quest for a unity of vision.

His current work is also on display. These images are captured, as always, in the flow of everyday life but they are often coupled with added visual elements taken, for example, from newspapers, which produces effects somewhere between vision and reading. His name for this current phase provides the title for the show. Le Livre des traductions (The Book of Translations) not only refers to the importance Claass attaches to books, it also refers to his conception of the discipline of photography: what the photographer does is seen as a constant translating of a certain reality (the immediate and fluctuating reality of appearances) into that other, photographic, reality capable of restoring by its literalness the enigmatic nature of the most apparently obvious things. This idea lies behind the title of the new set of texts that Claass has recently published, Le Réel de la photographie (The Reality of Photography).

Claass’s view is that the question of whether photography is an ‘art’ is, in the final analysis, secondary if not inhibiting. He views photography as a form of philosophy in action. The assertion of a kind of presence in the world, and being permanently open to anything that might come into view at any moment, are the key principles.

* The Book of Translations : le livre des traductions

Exhibition venue: Magasin Electrique, parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2012.