This introduction to the photographic artists of Galerie VU appeared in the Autumn issue of Private: International Review of Photographers.
The mental space is, first of all, a place that exists only in the mind of the photographer. The place – a building, a city, a region or a country – speaks then above all about the artist. The latter tries less to render an account of a geographical reality than to offer a voluntarily biased and incomplete representation, where he or she projects his or her sensibility, memories and imagination, personal mythologies or artistic and literary references. The place, by its strength of attraction or aversion, is invested by the artist who makes it the theater of his or her psychic functioning.
These works, necessarily subjective, sometimes enigmatic, always very open, build geographies that eventually break through any territoriality, any local tie and any border, to find their coherence in a game of sensitive or intellectual correspondence, which connect the images between them.
However, the notion of mental space also evokes the place which, by its nature or characteristics, is a creation of specific psychic states. The place exerts then a mental influence on the individual as observed by the photographer. The most evident are the places of power or authority – a classroom for example – where one has to submit to a hierarchy and to assimilate conventions and values. But certain spaces, apparently more harmless, show themselves as oppressive. Following the example of these numerous, contemporary, anonymous, functional and normative non-places as public transportation, private housing estates or group housing.
The artist seizes upon this daily alienation. When he or she underlines it, it is not to report it in a direct and documentary way. It is not to explain it. It is rather to make fun of it or make it a kind of symbol. But the artist also criticizes it or attacks it frontally. He or she then arouses reactions and behaviors that challenge standards and allow everyone to reaffirm one’s identity, integrity and freedom.