A Journey over intertwined Worlds

Viviane Zenner’s photographs are related to space in an unambiguous way. It is not any kind of relation or space. The relation between these photographs and space is created through an “exploration approach”, which is noticeable in the “figuration of space”. Hence, it is not real space that is being dealt with here, but rather space as the product of a mental conception, the manifestation of a mental projection, i.e. one of the various possible visions of space.

What does such a possible vision of space encompass? We may consider that it is a sort of meditation, a reverie at the core of which an exchange with and between images emerges. Viviane Zenner’s photographs do not exclusively display the reality of things, but rather try to focus on their boundary lines. In this case, boundary lines refer to the beginning and the end, or limits. It is only when restricted or limited that things appear or disappear.

Viviane Zenner’s photographs do not show faces even when they are portraits. One can make out profiles, outlines of faces, both present and absent. These pictures alternate moments of presence/absence. They restore an intangible mark, an impression that curiously disappears while remaining present. They show sheer and pure presence that retains what has vanished.

According to Rosalynd Krauss, “the disappearance of something materializes what has gone”. A disappearance is the testimony of a presence that is lost to the world; it underlines an absence that is being suffered in the present. The disappearance is the sign as well as the signature of the absence. As Roland Barthes tells us: A sign “is an open fracture on another sign”.

In another series of photographs, the absence comes to a climax, which leads to some confusion. Confusion is different from fuzziness, lack of definition or vagueness. It is a visualisation of absence. It unties the images from their subject so that they become more or less unreal.

A landscape, as such, has no existence. It has to be conceived and constructed. The photography, as a substitute of the eye, brings it into light. Moreover, it erases borders between things; it prevents their advent. This enables things to be part of a landscape, which thus gains some existence.

In accordance with the vocabulary of the history of arts we could say that Viviane Zenner’s photographs are “abstract”. But this “abstract” genre or category is not important here. What really matters is what images managed to abstract. The meaning is to be found in what has become abstract from and in these pictures, in what has been interrupted, suspended.

A sentence is interrupted when one of its words, such as a conjunction, is removed. In Viviane Zenner’s photographs such conjunctions do not exist, which gives the impression the images are neither coordinate, nor subordinate. In the end, these images are free: they have been captured, but have escaped. They embody what escapes, has run away, like a song.

The property of a song is to express what words cannot. A song alone is able to express the substance at its core. Arthur Rimbaud once wrote: “In the woods there is a bird whose song makes you stop and blush”. When it emanates from an image, a song appeals to each and every aspect of the image. You need to be aware of all the aspects of the image.

Singing does not only involve your voice and body; it also requires some interpretation. Interpreting means grasping the world differently, understanding the variety that characterises the world in order to transcend it. This variety is to be transcended by revealing the complex images the world may bear.

Every image originates in a craving for hallucinations; it is created to be a hallucination that would turn out to be real. To do so with her photographs, Viviane Zenner delimits the states and stages of a journey. A journey that carries you across the landscape of a world that conceals several. A journey across the landscapes of a world that belongs to her, far above ours.

Alain Coulange
15th January 2010

Translation: Philippe Golding