© Valérie Jouve, Sans-titre-47-(métro)
At Index, Valérie Jouve is exhibiting photographs from two separate series. These are Sans Titre (Untitled), a long-term work in progress and Landscapes a recent series of cityscapes. Jouve says that she doesn1t want to be too explicit, preferring there to be room for surprises in each series, something unpredictable within each series as well as between them.
The earlier photographs in the Sans Titre series are characterised by individual people isolated within the city environment - in a cityscape. What captures viewers´ attention above all, is perhaps, the expressions of those photographed. Jouve laboured to "construct" these spaces. The laborious photographing of staged situations, an isolated person in the urban environment. Later work, about 1 or 2 years ago, involves registering and objectively documenting spaces that already exist. Jouve says that it is about discovering a space by being in it. By seeing what actually makes the space what it is. What it is that creates a perception about the space. She pursues concepts about movement and speed. About motion and non-motion. A reflection of time - time and space in unbreakable unison. And man´s presence and absence.
In the latest issue of architectural journal Forum (no.1 2001), acclaimed Swedish film director Roy Andersson writes about man and his physical surroundings: "The room of which we are present in follows us." Andersson writes that we can only perceive the space we are in after having been depicted in it. "And it is the actual portrayal of the human being and her existence, which reminds us of the importance of the room." And going on: "It is space which has the marks of the hands of man, which is formed by man, that as I see it most powerfully evoke the feeling of us being followed by space."
In the series of photographs sub-titled Voitures (Cars), we see a traffic jam changing very slowly and tranquilly. As a repetition of a moment, but with a slight delay. Jouve says that certain photographs want to jam time. That can remind one of the actual frames of footage in a motion picture. Even in Roy Anderson´s film, (Songs from the Second Floor), there is a scene with a traffic jam. In this case, it is moving pictures, yet the changes taking place in the traffic jam are even less than in Jouve´s...
Associations can easily be made with a certain European cinematic tradition, including directors such as Antonioni and Tarkovskij.
Looking at Landscapes is like standing backstage looking over a stage. These are photographs that get us thinking of film1s estabilshing shots, recurring in introductions, giving us an impression of a location. But that is where Jouve´s photographs stop, there is no narrative thread to follow. The present is prolonged for an indeterminate length of time. And that is the area in which Jouve constantly works - a prolonged now.
Jouve talks about a photograph´s evolution and of a series of photographs evolving. The series are continually developing and she also regards them as families.
Jouve´s background includes time as a sociology student. For that reason she is loath to talk about a direct connection between her pictures and sociological ideas, even if there is an anthropological point of departure in her work.
Valérie Jouve, born 1964 in Saint-Etienne, currently lives and works in Paris. Jouve has exhibited at Galerie Shoshana (USA), 2000, and Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris), 1999 and 1996, to name a few. She has participated in a number of group shows, both in France and abroad, including "Devenirs" (France), 1999, "Paris en création, jeunes artistes de 21e siecle" (Japan), 1999, "Zeitgennössische Fotokunst aus Frankreich" (Germany and Hungary), 1998-99, "You talk, I listen" (Taiwan), 1998 and "The Art of the Everyday: France in the 90s" (USA), 1997-98
Our special thanks to the French Institute.