Anatomy of a Mythology
“There is no more unhappy being under the sun that a fetishist who pines for a boot and has to content himself with an entire woman » wrote Karl Kraus.
Such, more or less, is the thought that comes to mind when looking at this anonymous photographic collection that has changed hands several times. Here are hundreds of amateur photographs covering the decade from 1996 and 2006 expressing the fetishism of the taker.
This is manifested in photographs of legs sheathed in tights, snapped on the street or on television. The practice unfailingly recalls that of Miroslav Tichý – exhibited at the same time – except for the significant difference that our photographer sometimes becomes an exhibitor in what Magali Nachtergael calls this “museum of veiled legs.”
As is often the case with art brut, two burning questions arise: on one side, what is the degree of artifying that our gaze engages in when it comes across such a corpus? And, also, what is the fragment of the collective imaginary that seeps into what can indeed be called an “individual mythology”?
“Here, only the scopic matters,” affirms Marc Donnadieu, who goes on to observe that in the self-portraits “It is not, then, a matter of being the other, of feminising himself or cross-dressing. It would appear that it is only a matter of feeling himself to be the only object of desire.”
While going beyond the problematic of “brut” photography, the fact remains that the private, intimate nature of this undertaking syllogistically evokes that of fetishism as a consummate art of mythopoeia.
And here this acquires its full resonance, subverting boundaries, deconstructing models and ultimately imposing a particular narrative and aesthetic whose secrets the author surely never imagined us trying to elucidate here today.
This is the story of an anonymous photographic collection that surfaced from the secret depths to which it seemed doomed. Hundreds of amateur prints created over the course of a decade, between 1996 and 2006, that bear witness to the fetishistic habits of its author, manifested through pictures of legs covered with tights, taken either in the street or from a television screen. His practice evokes that of Miroslav Tichy, with the principal difference that our photographer sometimes becomes a subject himself. In both cases—as is often true with art brut—the burning questions of the construction to which our gaze proceeds and of the collective imagination’s infusion by such an individual[…]
Texts : Marc Donnadieu et Magali Nachtergael
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition the fetishist : anatomy of a mythology, from october 15th to november 21st, 2020.