Thursday 12 October 2017

Delmes & Zander at FIAC 2017

Anonymous Collages, untitled, 1860 - 1870s, collage, photography, mixed media on paper, 29 x 24cm

Paris, October 19 - 22, 2017

Careful Whispers
featuring Margret - Chronicle of an Affair
and Anonymous Collages from the 19th Century

In the exhibition Careful Whispers Delmes & Zander will feature two positions which employ a distinctive artistic practice in order to bring to life a private fantasy carefully conceived in utmost secrecy: Margret – Chronicle of an Affair and Anonymous Collages from the 19th Century.

Margret – Chronicle of an Affair is a detailed account of a love story between the young German secretary Margret and her boss Günter also the meticulous bookkeeper of the affair. From May 1969 to December 1970 he took photographs of Margret dressing and undressing, applying make up or posing with a new outfit, but also wrote detailed protocols with his typewriter about the days and times of their secret rendezvous and kept souvenirs of their stays in hotels, casinos and cocktail bars.

Although she certainly was aware of the photographs, it is unlikely that Margret knew about Günter's personal notes which focused for example on the frequency and duration of their sexual encounters and on the regularity of her contraceptive pill intake. Nor is it likely that she knew about the collection of personal ephemera that Günter archived, such as the samples of Margret's head and pubic hair, her fingernail clippings or the tissue with dried blood from a scab on her wrist.

An anonymous album of photo collages, discovered in France and dating from around the 1860-70s, repeatedly shows women either tied at the stake before burning or on their knees awaiting the moment of decapitation. The album employs a number of groundbreaking techniques for the time that materialize the exact vision of its author: collage, hand colouring, photographic superimposition, double- and overexposure. The technical virtuosity of the works also suggests the hand of a professional photographer with access to photographic equipment and a darkroom, as well as to contact with his female models. The mise-en-scène is clearly influenced by popular motifs of the time such as Paul Delaroche’s paintings The Decapitation of Lady Jane Grey (1833) or Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist (1843).

Similarly to Margret – Chronicle of an Affair, it is unlikely that the models in the anonymous collages knew the extent to which they would feature in the works. Barely concealing a deep-rooted sexualized undercurrent, the works place the models in a completely new setting in which they are radically re-contextualized and reimagined. They become part of a new creation inspired by the exclusive fantasies of their authors. Although it is something that is not allowed and executed behind closed doors, their authors are compelled to do it and for this purpose they resort to artistic processes that are carefully developed and perfected over time to obtain the desired result. Both Margret and the models in the album are like paper dolls that can be secretly played with: Günter documents Margret in the new dress he bought for her in a similar way as does the author of the anonymous album when he glues a cut-out apron onto his models so that they look the way he needs them to look like. Within his fantasy, within what he believes is right, within what others might believe is wrong. It is a fantasy and therefore everything is allowed. It is the justification of his desire.

Booth 1.J18 Salon d’Honneur  
Grand Palais, Paris

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