LE BARON CHÉPER
by Nicolas Auderau (EN)
Nicolò Degiorgis’s (1985) photographic surveys bear witness to social phenomena. Using the image as a vector and the book as a form - the book becomes an object, unfolding and developing into a potential exhibition – his work allows us to enter uninhabited, neglected spaces that nevertheless reflect the collective uses of the city.
The exhibition Le baron chéper presents three sets of works: Hidden Islam (2009-2014), Heimatkunde (2017), and L’Arlequin & La Villeneuve (2018). These ensembles take a benevolent look at questions dealing with origin, immigration and place in the social and physical space of the cities through which the artist passes, and from which he draws subjective reports. However, these works are careful not to provide easy answers, nor to exploit complacency or emotional responses. What links Nicolò Degiorgis’s projects presented at the CAP - Centre d’arts plastiques de Saint-Fons, is an object of complexity, an aesthetic approach that involves photography, the artist’s book, and the exhibition display that leads us to a mise en abyme of the gaze.
L’ARLEQUIN & LA VILLENEUVE
by Simone Frangi and Katia Schneller
As can be seen in the series Hidden Islam (2009-2014) and Blue as gold (2017), Degiorgis’s photographic work seeks to document social and political minorities in the public and domestic spheres, and how they inhabit the contexts of urban segregation within the contemporary European space. The visibility produced by his photographic images - often produced in a collaborative way - makes it possible to inject back into the collective imagination what had been taken away from it in a detrimental way.
As part of his residency in Grenoble, Nicolò Degiorgis was interested in the architectural, social and political complexity of L’Arlequin and La Villeneuve. Built by the Atelier d’Urbanisme et Architecture (AUA) between 1970 and 1983, in a peri-urban area located in the south of Grenoble, these two districts were seen at the time of their construction as an architectural utopia based on the myths and rhetoric of innovation and social diversity; exalting community life through experimentation with forms of active citizenship, as shown by the experience of Vidéogazette neighbourhood television (1972 - 1976). Subsequently transformed into a housing area for ethnic, religious and social minorities, these areas were stigmatized as «sensitive neighbourhoods,» by the media and political discourse in the early 2000s in the wake of suburban riots.
At the same time, and perhaps because of this negative valorisation, these spaces have become a particularly intensive eld of investigation in sociology.
It is in this context, that Nicolò Degiorgis critically questions the capacity of the artistic and documentary media to formulate a diagnosis of social complexities and their presumption to constitute themselves as a space of denunciation. In order to avoid the hyper-visibility and stereotyping of the suburban context that the media and cinema have generated, Degiorgis has chosen to photograph solely architectural spaces and their natural environment. By presenting these impressive architectural structures in the evening light, where human presence is «dormant», con ned to their domestic spaces, his images propose an inversion of miserable and paternalistic narratives that offer other ways of narrating the experience of these peri-urban areas. They contribute to the elaboration of an ethical and responsible position on the part of the artist regarding the urgent need for a tangible hospitality that refuses representation and vampirization. »
Simone Frangi and Katia Schneller ÉSAD, Grenoble •Valence