Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Artists Ponder Food - Valerie Belin wins 2015 Prix Pictet

The photographs of Valerie Belin speak simply of our 21st century obsessiveness and materialism with a fetid richness that reminds me of my childhood captivation with the paintings of Ivan Albright.
Ivan Albright, Flesh (Smaller than Tears Are the Little Blue Flowers), 1928
The iconography of ValĂ©rie Belin’s photographs is silent. It has that silence that precedes disasters and then follows them. The silence of accidents, the spectacular labyrinths of glass and mirrors, of ceremonies, the bodies and faces where we do not know whether the beings they belonged to are still alive. The absence of any dramatisation, the determination not to strive for effect, come together in the production of images without affection. Even with themes, figures and subjects that bring a whole culture of expressiveness with them.What is this ailment which is both contained and exposed? The paradox that runs through all her work makes up its aesthetic purpose but also seems to be tributary to a situation typical of the history of art in the late 20th century.....That is when the brilliance of black reveals the substance of a morbid aesthetic. Morbidity, despite its first syllable, is not death; it refers to sickness. And so this may be a sick relation with culture described by the delicate treatment of flesh, the very definition of sickly grace: morbidezza. - Michel Poivert
 How appropriate Belin has won this year's Prix Pictet
The mission of Prix Pictet is to the search for photographs that communicate messages of global significance under the broad theme of sustainability. For the Sixth Prix Pictet the theme is Disorder. Previous laureates of the award have been Benoit Aquin (Water), Nadav Kander (Earth), Mitch Epstein (Growth), Luc Delahaye (Power) and Michael Schmidt (Consumption).In his foreword to the accompanying book, Disorder, Kofi Annan writes, “Our times are defined by Disorder – disorder, at the very moment in human history when we almost dared imagine that no problem was beyond our capacity to solve. Remarkable advances in medicine have helped to eradicate scores of formerly fatal diseases. We are capable of breathtaking feats of engineering – raising mighty dams, flood defences and soaring earthquake-proof buildings. Our mastery over manifold aspects of life has deluded us into thinking that we have bent the planet to our will. Yet the fragility of that assumption is exposed with each new pandemic, earthquake, tsunami or drought. With each passing day our illusion of order is shattered.”An exhibition of the images shortlisted for the award will now tour the world. The tour begins at MAXXI in Rome and will then travel to major international museums and galleries including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva; Westbau, Zurich; CAB (Contemporary Art Brussels), the Palau Robert, Barcelona and the Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego. Proposals from other leading galleries and museums are currently under review.

Chips #4, 2004

Bob #5, 2012

Still Life with Vase, 2014

Fruits Baskets, Untitled, 2007

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