ATLAS gathers all the recent works of Antoine d’Agata. This exhibition is the fruit of a cinematographic and artistic project started in 2013 with the release of the movie entitled ATLAS. White noise, an installation conceived after the movie is currently on show at LaBanque as part of the exhibition entitled Dépenses (curated by Lea Bismuth).From this project, Antoine d’Agata published a book of the same name to be released next October by Editions Textuel. The series featured at the gallery is his last one entitled “Paradigmes”. It reveals a new formal approach at the crossroad between photographic and cinematographic practice.
Before anything, ATLAS is a journey. It is the recording of the obsessions and sensitive experiences of the artist. Going from one continent to another, Antoine d’Agata tells us a troubling and murky story about prostitutes he met and places he visited. His nights left him with bits and pieces of “dark realities” and the “destructive satisfaction of desire”.
“Inside the different chronologies and accumulations that constitute Atlas and Paradigmes, certainty collapses and reality dissolves into fragmented sequences of life. The dark and hidden face of the world appeals to me, the cursed or taboo side of it. Under the conscious influence of sexual disorders and narcotics, I compromise myself both physically and mentally. Addiction to chemical substances is key to my capacity to constantly reinvent my own destiny through photography, the way I look at the world as well as my actions.”
Even though experience seems to take over concepts in Antoine d’Agata’s work, here a formal intention shows through the choice of a shattered imagery and a deliberately fragmented composition. Out of chaos, Antoine d’Agata creates a neat and sequential system. The existential anarchy of places and subjects therefore becomes like a “grid”, a set of lines and columns which seemingly simple shape confuses our senses through their obsessional repetition. Considered a necessity by the artist, the visual saturation and excess of his work imbues it with an obvious aesthetic insolence. His resort to accumulation cannot but refer to the scientific studies of Muybridge. However, galloping horses are replaced by a masturbating woman, a sort of “chronopornography” justified by his compulsion to “capture the intensity of events, of moments of life.” Places too become repeated patterns opening to a world of darkness, like a dull forest (Selva), or the ghostly and ravaged buildings of Fukushima.
Through this continuous flow of images, d’Agata suggests a new language based on a strategy of accumulation that consists in gathering fragments of his own experience. The dynamism of the composition, which feels as intense as the real moment captured on camera, is only formalized by the artist afterwards, image after image. This way, he fully enjoys the present experience. This extreme use of repetition pushes motifs towards abstraction while also providing viewers with some visual distance. The process the artist goes through to reach his final images starts with a conscious decision not to control the action:
“I lose myself and I lose control. I even lose my mind. However this is what I am looking for, since this fragile state brings me closer than ever to what I consider to be a legitimate artistic practice. The put in practice of what could remain a mere ideological belief allows me to reach a unique perspective.
As chemicals sink in, from my blood to my flesh and brain, they shape new gestures, emotions and thoughts and erase my doubts and fears. They emphasize my consciousness of the environment up to madness. I let life crush me. I constantly act from the theoretical belief that every action opens up a new future, a new feeling to explore. Each new situation, conceived, provoked and experienced, gets me further away from the temptation of a comfortable life, and in the impossible battle I am fighting against myself, against the inevitable decay of my body.”
“Against himself”. Indeed Antoine d’Agata does not try to show the world as it is. He intends to reveal his own vision of it, his own experimentations. The title of this series (Paradigmes), which is part of the bigger body of work that constitutes Atlas, is a testimony of the different worlds he explored and reinvented. His images are an attempt at a new type of representation, in which the artist tries to free himself from a set of photographic rules and preconceived ideas (compositions, layout etc.). In this sense, his photographs are truly paradigmatic.
“In my most recent works, I try to forge a secret and illicit language based on aesthetic deconstruction. My intention is to pervert and destroy the preconceived ideas that inhibit the norms of photographic language.”