Friday, May 19, 2017


Click on any image for a larger version

I have already blogged on the exhibition currently in the Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse St. If you're reading this and likely to be in Dublin it would be well worth your while to drop in. I gather the exhibition is about to be extended until the end of June (except for the week of 6-13 June).

But last night some of us had a special treat. Jean Marc Godès had come over from France to talk about his work.

Anne Marie Kelly

He was introduced to an expectant audience by Anne Marie Kelly who is responsible for the exhibition and for bringing us Jean Marc live.

Jean Marc Godès

And live he was. It was a most animated and unusual performance. Anne Marie had told us we were welcome to ask questions during the talk and Jean Marc added to this by himself posing questions directly to the audience. So the session turned into a conversation about his work rather than a one way presentation.

I was glad to get in early and ask why he went to all the trouble of staging these elaborate and tricky tableaux for his photographs? Why did he not simply Photoshop his concepts into existence?

He was at pains to explain that his work has two elements, the real and the unreal. The magic moment is when these two universes collide and this is what is captured in the photographs.

For this to be truly effective the reality element has to have been real. You have to be able to believe that what you are seeing actually happened. Only then can you truly marvel at the wonder of it. Only then can it really penetrate your imagination and truly bring you to a place where the two worlds meet.

He also made the point that he sees the photos as a freeze frame of motion and invites the onlookers to imagine what happened just before the photo and what might happen next. This can be the stuff of deep meditation.

So, OK Photoshop is out.

At a later stage I asked him why he had note staged any of his photos in the city. They were all indoors, or in the countryside, or at the beach, and so on.

His answer was short and to the point.

J'aime pas le béton.

Not for him the concrete jungle. He is really a bit of a romantic.

Rosena Horan (interpreting) & Jean Marc

I should say that the session was in French but with interpretation. I don't know how it happened but as it turned out all present appeared to understand some French at least and interpretation was almost redundant. But Rosena handled the trickier bits very well.

So, let' have a look at some of the work which was included in the presentation, remembering all the while that we are talking about books and the written word.

A poem of Jacques Prévert written on human parchment. Prévert would have loved it. Jean Marc is a big fan and I mentioned to him that, coincidentally, there is an exhibition of Prévert's collages currently running down the road in the Alliance Française.

Jean Marc teased his audience challenging us to guess how he constructed his tableaux.

For example, how was the swing suspended? This one brought forth a crane on a nearby boat and even two helicopters. In fact it was from a bridge.

This, if I understood him correctly, was taken in the boy's parents' kitchen.

These books floating down the river evoke the Mississippi paddle boats. But how are they suspnded in the water? Well we got planks and fishing line and God knows what, but the ingenuity of this one evaded everybody. No one came within an ass's roar of it.

The shot was taken the other way up. This whole thing is a reflection. A beautiful piece of work.

This one reminded me of a French tongue twister which I won't bore you with. The scene turned out to have been a very elaborate construction.The book has a plank under it. The rat, though live, is sort of attached to it (for safety!). The cat was in a cage up to a moment before and is just getting over the shock of seeing the rat. The cat is also still restrained though I don't think cats like water anyway.

This turned out not to be a branch but a trunk and there is a forklift truck involved.

This featured in the exhibition but not in the talk. But I like it. A bellyful of books.

Finally, just to recall that Jean Marc is no stranger to Ireland. He exhibited in the Cork library system in 2013.

You can check out his website and/or leaf through his 2017 catalogue.

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