Under the circumstances that have marked the world, we invite you to discover VIRUS, Antoine d’Agata’s view of Covid-19 and its social and political resonances. The exhibition will present an installation of 1000 images out of the 13,000 produced by Antoine d’Agata between March 11 and May 11, 2020 and foreshadows the release on October 29, 2020 of the artist’s new Opus edited by Studio Vortex.
“We are only a little stored, organized solar heat, a memory of Sun. A little phosphorus that burns in the meninges of the world. ” Paul Cézanne
From the ﬁrst day of conﬁnement ensuing the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Antoine d’Agata roamed the streets of Paris with a thermal camera to record, in his own unique way, the viral epidemic that turned the city into a strange theatre of wandering souls, bowed heads and ﬂeeing bodies. Initially attracted by the way in which the thermodynamic device records the various infrared rays (heat waves) emitted by bodies, which vary according to their temperature, the artist was soon fascinated by a process that reduces human subjects to essential ﬁgures, devoid of superﬂuous characteristics or speciﬁcities.
Living and working for two months out of the Paris ofﬁce of the Magnum Photos agency and gallery, he used the thermal technique to document the impregnation of the deserted city existing under conﬁnement: a city plunged into silence, traversed by bodies with stereotypical attitudes, inhabited above all by the homeless who appear – in these images – as the last truly living and resistant bodies, austere and ﬂame-tinged compositions offering an alternative and dystopian vision of the emptying streets.
Antoine d’Agata:« This documentary work is dominated by the use of thermal technology because it offers the ability to capture information that photography as we know it cannot. It is not a question of aesthetics but of a technique under development that allows me to generate a visual language that apprehends reality from both an existential and political perspective. As the coronavirus tore the continent apart and people isolated themselves, I was fed by words from Henry James quoted by Jean-Luc Godard – We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our mark – I tracked the heat stored by bodies, ﬁrst on the street and then – very soon after that – in the Covid-19 continuing care and resuscitation units. In the last two months I produced 13,000 images (6,500 in the streets of the capital, 6,500 images in various hospitals) sometimes sleeping for days on end within the hospital buildings, photographing the interactions between ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses, and patients – gestures spanning the medical, hygienic, and comforting. It is in this ambivalence between solidarity and contamination, this inevitability of social and physiological death, that I tried to apprehend, traversing a language of senses and of resistance that transﬁgures the body. The thermal image freezes forms, postures, ﬁgures, poses, zones imperceptible to the naked eye.”
The situation required watchmen. Mathilde Girard, philosopher and writer, writes from the start of the conﬁnement fragments of what she perceives in the excitement of speeches and sanitary rules, what she sees in the street, the stories she hears. Writing was for her, without judging, a means of observing the effects of conﬁnement on the separation between bodies; to describe everything that seemed stupefying in the city, how the locals behaved with each other, how the birds ﬂew.After two weeks, she contacted Antoine d’Agata to inquire about him. They were both alone in the city. They started a correspondence: Antoine sending the photos he was taking; Mathilde her fragments. It soon became clear that a truth emerged from this exchange and from the relationship between image and text.A feeling of responsibility, of collective obligation, of seeing and grasping in detail, day after day, the mixture of violence and gentleness, political austerity and solidarity guided their approach. The photographic gesture and the literary work met in the same concern, in this tragic and cold situation from which they could not turn away.
VIRUS, Exhibition From October 10-31. 2020
Curators : Antoine D’AGATA et Samantha BARROERO
VIRUS, Éditions STUDIO VORTEX, Photographies: ANTOINE D’AGATA
Texts: MATHILDE GIRARD, PHILIPPE AZOURY, MEHDI BELHAJ KACEM, LÉA BISMUTH, JUAN BRANCO, YANNICK HAENEL, FRÉDÉRIC NEYRAT
Book release : with the authors from 4.00 to 8.00 pm 8.00 pm – October 29-30-31. 2020
SATURDAY 31 3.00 to 8.00 pm : Lectures and conference with Antoine d’Agata and the authors.