Little Big Galerie

/ / 2017

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Vincent Fillon, We were here

We were here plunges us in the darkness of a forest, partly enlightened by a halo, a sparkling block, a fluorescent rod, a ray of light. A poetic nature made of intertwined branches, leaves that are still in trees, or dead leaves, hiding on the floor, a rock, the feeling of seeing a path. The technically meticulous series has various phases. First, its romanticism darkens as we get deeper in Vincent Fillon’s forest.

When the light imposes, bright, geometrical and accurate, we focus on the impact of men on nature. On his capacity to design elements to appropriate his environment, to behave with landscapes. Artefact as a sign of the thousand-year presence of human, who tamed the wild nature, in the best-case scenario; who distorted it, more often than not. This is the most obvious meaning of these images.

The compositions where the light source is obvious, but remains hidden oblige us to read them differently.

A flash of light on the right side of a rock brings us back to the mists of time, in a fantasised prehistory, composed of caves, of fires, of the first places humans sheltered under.

Not being able to where the light comes from recalls us an almost extinct fragility, the man looking for a shelter, a cave that is the root of architecture, the choice of a protective space that is already there, made of stones, cavities, access surveillance, eagerly awaiting for the slightest sound. Yet, we know that this invisible light is not trembling nor flickering. Its clarity, its whiteness, its coldness, tell us about contemporaneity, electricity.

More than a prehistory, it would be an anticipation. The one of the end of men?

Would a few people who survived an unknown catastrophe looked for a shelter?

If we had not seen on other prints the source of this lights, we could be looking at documentary photographs showing a forest where undocumented people, 20th century social outcasts would have found shelter, waiting for better times to come.

Now, it is no longer time to escape from the natural catastrophe, but from police manhunts, from political decisions, from the excess of the economy, from the strictness our world is shifting towards.

Without any trace of a cabin, however, without any disseminated objects, we cannot decide this contemporary prehistory. The man, who is supposedly the theme of the series, remains desperately away from these images. Even though a kind of recollection, of memory of places, of uses imposes, we do not have the proof that this is what it is. The title, We were here, assures that it is about a presence that used to be.

The most mysterious photographs, where the interwining of the trees is animated by an odd light are the most powerful. While following the architecture of the branches, the night twin of Gérard Tranquandi’s trees, one’s memory remembers Perrault and Grimm’s tales. The forest imposes, trees becomes an architectural marvel, the earth and the sky match. Our imaginations become childish, it is a universe inhabited by worrying and fantastic characters, Tom Thumb, deseeded bread crumb, Hansel and Gretel, gingerbread house, Little Red Riding Hood and small pot of butter. The woods are brought back to their initial nature, a powerful environment, charming, in which human beings keep a low profile, venture but remain discreet. But also cradle, source for food, shelter, ecosystem in which fauna and flora harmonise. And where human beings would have recovered their proper place.

From the vertical images of Dehumanized City one, architectural madness of repetitions and sizes, to the recent N’habite plus à cette adresse, including the palimpsest of Entre Deux, Vincent fillon examines anew the place of men, their impact on environment. This time, nature is an area for exploration, architecture seems to have changed into a luminous object, landscapes focus on forest. And the absent human beings change into the impalpable presence of the artist hidden behind his camera.

— Fanny Léglise, 10 June 2015 —


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