The Parker Stephenson Gallery in New York has been showing since early March the latest series by the photographer Raphaël Dallaporta. The artist presents a series that breaks away from his previous works.
Grand Organs of Paris is a parenthesis in the universe of Raphaël Dallaporta. This photographer is habitually engaged, the type that would devote his talent to the social cause and to documentary photography. As in Domestic Slavery (2006), cold images of ordinary looking buildings. Behind the walls : stories of women, most of them without papers, abused, humiliated. Hard and revolting.
This time, Raphaël Dallaporta is looking at an object that fascinates him : the organ, photographed in six Parisien churches. He appreciates their baroque, organic and monumental qualities. The aesthete emphasizes their symetry and refinement. The wood shines, as well as the metal. The fragile sculptures hold the colossal skeleton, while the clock ensures balance. With a little imagination, the structure reminds us of the open mouth of a whale’s baleen plate. The photographer certainly is concerned about detail.
« With Grand Organs of Paris, I wanted to make that which is beautiful, beautiful, » he recounts. An aesthetic and technical challenge. He had to analyse the space and its light, varying and difficult to master. An entire protocol of production had to be elaborated. « The technical part is the only issue of project, » says the artist. « It’s rare to propose a level of resolution that goes beyond human perception. » There is, in fact, little surprise. The perfection in Raphaël Dallaporta’s images is that of the plastic arts. His prints are elegant, meticulous, devoted to being attractive. But before, there was Antipersonnel, a series of defused landmines photographed on a black background, and that caught the eye of Martin Parr. Contrasts, reflections and bright colors. This was beauty with death. « Sometimes, with photography, we try to give beauty to things that do not necessarily have it », he explains. Exhibited at Arles in 2004, this unsettling series made him known only two years after he finished the Ecole des Gobelins.
Since last September, Raphaël Dallaporta gave himself a new challenge : to document archeological excavations. Those of a buddhist monastery, of the pre-islamic era in Afghanistan. He is following a group of French archeologists who, along with their Afghan counterparts, are working on a major excavation campaign. Though here he fixes his camera on a drone, piloted from the ground. His objective : circle the site, multiplying the viewpoints and playing with the distances in order to propose larger plans or very precise enlargements. In high resolution. Another wide angle challenge for the winner of the ICP Infinity Young Photographer Award of 2010, this being more of public interest than artistic.
Raphaël Dallaporta – Grand Organs of Paris
Until May 14th
L. Parker Stephenson Photographs
764 Madison Avenue, New York