02 February 2009

On the Death of a French Photographer

From: Série Amérique ~ Entrée De Rome, 2006.
Photograph © Edourd Lévé.

It is funny how the internet works. This morning I received an email with the subject "relating to the death of a French photographer." The email linked to a flickr page maintained by Doug Berryhill. Doug's profile there reads:
I seem to have always been curious about our species, our history, our passions, our beauty, our frailties. The pictures that appeal to me usually have to do in some way with the human condition. They allow us to view ourselves truthfully, where we've been, and maybe where we're choosing to go.- Jefferson City, Tennessee, USA
The email linked to this specific posting entitled "My Day with Edourd." The Edourd in question is the french photographer mentioned in the subject line to the email; he is Edourd Levé, a Parisian photographer who killed himself in October 2007. Here is the bio sketch that accompanies some of Edourd's work on his gallery's web page:
Edouard Levé (1965-2007)
Born in
Neuilly sur Seine, France

Edouard Levé's view and touch on reality never separates the visible from the imaginable, the obvious from what flows around it, creating subtle yet firm, persisting conceptual short circuits and revelations. The framework of the photographic and written works
Levé has recently produced could be traced by connecting the latest, and we think best, European conceptual art and philosophical moves (OULIPO and the reflections of Deleuze and Guattari on dis-placement and de-territorialization) and a clarity of execution that is very pop and communicative indeed. In "Portraits of Homonyms", a 1996-99 photographic series, Levé has (simply) photographed the homonyms of 10 famous dead French artists and writers : Eugène Delacroix, Raymond Roussel, André Breton, Georges Bataille, André Masson, Fernand Léger, Henri Michaux, Yves Klein..., that he found in the telephone directory; creating at the same time a personal pantheon, in which the people you look at are not the ones you think of, and you find yourself asking the "what is in a name?"question. With all the consequences that follow. In "Reconstructed Dreams" (1999-2000), Levé's photographically reconstituted his dreams, having the individuals he dreamt playing themselves and building scenographies as faithful as possible to the reality of the dream. In "Pornography" (2002-2003), models play porno scenes as seen in specialized magazines. But they are dressed, their faces are inexpressive, and the actual objects of desire are hidden. The obscenity of the scenes does and does not vanish at once. It as an inquiry in the poetics and politics of desire and of our own obscenity.


Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Paris, France
Fonds National
d'Art Contemporain, la Défense, Puteaux, France
FRAC Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, Paris, France
In any case, the posting on Doug's page relates the happenstance that very briefly brought he and Edouard together. It was, quite literally a fleeting, felicitous crossing of paths. You should read it. But, the email I received was not from Doug Berryhill. It came from another fellow from Tennessee, Roger Fleenor, who also keeps a page at flickr, complete with an enigmatic profile, here.

Perhaps this post is inappropriate. After all, none of this concerns me in any direct way. I simply received an email and have taken it as an invitation. I've never met either Doug or Roger. I had never heard of Edourd. But I thank Roger for calling my attention to Doug's posting. I don't know what prompted you to write, but am glad you did. And I especially thank Doug for using the web to reveal part of himself. So often that reduces to exhibitionism. Not here. I hope you don't mind my writing. And Edourd ... thanks for the work you left behind. Without knowing it, you've crossed some more paths today.
PS: I've changed the picture above - lifted from Edourd's work at the Galerie Loevenbruck page - because Rome, NY is only a bit more than an hour from where I live here in Western, New York.



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