For his first solo exhibition at the gallery entitled Même rayé à mort, un simple rectangle (Even scratched to death, a simple rectangle), Aurélien Froment (b. 1976) has opted for a ‘combinatorial display’, which brings together three new series of works in the three rooms of the gallery. The different series, which are taken from very specific repertoires, follow on from and reinforce each other. Whether he works from film images, illustrations taken from the New Art of Memory (Dublin, 1813) or scenes from the Apocalypse Tapestry, Froment tirelessly challenges the relationship between image and word, between image and history.
In the right-hand room, an installation consisting of tens of ceramic tiles is arranged on the large wall. The tiles reproduce the images used by Gregor von Feinaigle, a German monk who taught the classical art of memory applied to learning languages, art, poetry, history or geography in Dublin at the beginning of the 19th century.
Memory is also evoked in the left-hand room where Froment presents a series of images taken from 35mm films. Originally part of the leader at the beginning and end of the reels that make up a film, these images which are usually cut and consigned to the projection room floor are rescued from oblivion and reconsidered by the artist. Froment shows these intermediate transition shots, and by changing from landscape to portrait, focuses on the background, freed from the intricacies of the plot. These images that came so close to extinction are reminiscent of the impressions of the series Figures of Speech (rear space), which explore details of the monumental Angers Apocalypse Tapestry (14th century).
The fineness of the photos invites the viewer to consider the fragility of these apparitions and constitutes a work where detail challenges immensity. The series reveals the power of words, the effect of discourse and the organ responsible for it: the mouth. Whether they take the form of frogs, flames or water, they are single or multiple, whether they are divine or profane, words fade away as Froment’s images appear to do; the vision is only there for a brief instant, between the brightness of the light and the darkest obscurity. The past appears in a burst of light but leaves behind a trace that finds an unmistakable resonance in the present day.
With Même rayé à mort, un simple rectangle, Aurélien Froment reanimates images, giving them a new lease of life. These images conceal yet others, and open up new interpretations that confer on them the potential to overwhelm.