Jean Baptiste Para, The time and the place

On the occasion of the exhibition "Portraits of time, space 1789, Saint-Ouen, 2000

What does one see in Corinne Mercadier’s photographs? Sky and water, the line of the horizon, fragile landing stages with loose planks, one or two boats hauled up on the shore, almost nothing. Objects were not more numerous in the paintings by Morandi. Vases, jugs, bottles. An equal perseverance in laconism. An art of little where the lifeless and the second-rate become the most radiant reality. An illustration of forlornness which metamorphoses itself in the ecstasy of solitude.
Against all that which obliterates our vision, Corinne Mercadier opens the path of the void. And this void strangely arouses a presence to the world. It is the structure and the rigging of the gaze. Bit by bit this state of abandon which impregnates the countryside insinuates itself in us. Little by little everything that is not light take refuge. The rare objects which we see live in the vacancy of their use. There is in them something which is infinitely available which communicates its calm and its peace to the very edges of the heart.
The places photographed are always the same, never named. They are impossible to pin down, as if they are the margins of the world, but not nowhere to be found. They seem rather to already have been present in us before we saw them. “Every soul is and becomes that which it contemplates”, stated Plorin. Corinne Mercadier gives us little to contemplate. The wonderful thing is that this little is in itself a scale of intensities. It contains the inexhaustible.
Are these waters, sleeping or sculpted by fixed eddies, those of a lake, of a pool, of a sea? One hardly thinks of considering this question. When the boat on the sand looks like the bone of a cuttlefish, it signifies a reduction to the essential, a voyage to the extremes of simplicity. So awakes the temptation to register this art of photography with the teaching of the visual haiku. Like the three verses of this classic Japanese poem, every image here evokes the most tenuous event and sets it in the whiteness of silence. It is an isolated fragment where the universe tears itself and recomposes itself with the process of contemplation.
Here we have another sensitive trait of these photographs; they carry within themselves the history of their art, sometimes approaching the grain and the bistres of the oldest clichés or the primitive daguerreotypes. As for the use of colour, one senses it submitted to a patient decantation; the tones slip, brown with age, wither, then suddenly come to life in the strident scarlet of three bristling pennants on a boat, amongst the fillets of fish and the buoys. Everything is to do with light, and one notices a pictorial accent in the clarity which reaches us, as if the light dematerialised itself by dematerialising other things. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Corinne Mercadier renders a latent part of the material perceptible? The most humble object, the most ordinary sight, that which has effaced custom, here we perceive it with an emotional and new vision. All visible things reimmerse themselves in this way with an air of legend, as if the cities of Ys and Kitège, buried underwater, were revealing themselves to our eyes.
In the light pulverulence or the haze which marks some of the photos, one nevertheless perceives a veil of melancholy. Is it the regret of the inaccessible? Is it the torment of not being able to match a life to this light which inaugurates itself unceasingly and seems to want to drive us to the other side of time, “there where it trembles and spreads itself out and stops spinning”? At the deepest level of his being, man believes in this way to cross the serration of the days, and in an indistinct glow where dawn is as indistinguishable as dusk, his eye views the world for the first time.

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