23rd March 2019 — 20th April 2019
ALMA ZEVI Venice
Private View: 22 March, 2019, 6-8 pm
Alain Baczynsky, born in Brussels in 1953, lives and works between Jerusalem and Paris. He has developed a highly intimate photographic practice that often takes self-portraiture as its starting point. Baczynsky spends many years researching and completing each new series of photographs. HATUFIM, a project started in 2013, was completed in 2019 on the occasion of this exhibition of the same name at ALMA ZEVI in Venice.
Hatufim is a series of eight photographic diptychs, each of which presents a portrait of a person, either composed from archival documents or taken in the artist’ studio, alongside a self-portrait by the artist. Whether archival images or recent works, the different portraits in the series were all carefully composed following the strict parameters commonly associated with deadpan passport or official identity photographs, showing a sitter facing the camera front-on with a neutral expression. The recurring image of the self-portrait has been subjected to the same manipulation eight times: Baczynsky (digitally) cut the eyes, and in some cases the eyebrows, of the facing portrait and pasted them onto his own. His eyes never appear.
Baczynsky enacts his own blinding, performing unsettling shifts of identity. He takes in turn the gaze of his grandfather, Rudolph Höss, his daughter, a Palestinian refugee, a young Israeli soldier, a new born baby, a nonagenarian Palestinian man, and a blind Ethiopian immigrant. It is through the repetitiveness of the motif of the artist’s self-portrait combined with the variation of the other subjects’ gazes that the viewer becomes aware that a series of uncanny juxtapositions are at play. If the style and format adopted by Baczynsky recalls a certain tradition of the photographic portrait (that can be traced back to August Sander’s People of the 20th Century and in its legacy on the Düsseldorf school in the 1990s), it also disrupts it. The experience of looking at Hatufim is interrupted by the realization of a double presence, of a breach in the representation of the artist’s identity – one that challenges the viewer to look at portraiture anew.
(Inès de Bordas, 2019)
In Hebrew, Hatufim means ‘kidnapped’ or ‘abductee’ – words that in their etymologies refer to a state where one is ‘pulled or led away’.
This exhibition is accompanied by a new Italian-English publication with texts by Inès de Bordas. The volume is co-published by Silence Editions and ALMA ZEVI.
Alain Baczynsky’s work have been shown at the KANAL - Centre Pompidou, Brussels (2018); Grand Palais, Paris (2016); Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne (2014); Kunst Haus, Vienna (2014); Hellerau, Europäisches Zentrum der Künste, Dresden, Germany (1995); and Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (1992). In 2012 his major work Regardez, il va peut-être se passer quelque chose... was acquired by the Centre Pompidou (Paris). During that year Baczynsky’s book with the same title was published by Éditions Textuels and includes texts by Clément Chéroux and Horacio Amigorena.