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From the exihibition Sur Moiby Laurent Benaim. © Laurent Benaim1 / 2

Laurent Benaim: On me

Among the exhibitions that I got to visit in Arles as part of Voies Off 2016, that of Laurent Benaim is undoubtedly the most captivating under various points of view. The images of this author are in fact characterised by an openness, if I may say so, that displaced elsewhere could hardly be understood as alien to pornography. And yet, the images by Benaim, by right if they can be placed within a highly erotic strand, are a thousand miles away from expressing the vulgarity that usually accompanies what we call pornography.

Dalla mostra Sur moi di Laurent Benaim. © Laurent Benaim. From the exhibition Sur moi by Laurent Benaim. © Laurent Benaim.

Why all this? Well, first of all the author's technical ability to express himself on a formal level high enough to move the hand that defines the contents in the area of the thematic form factor. As part of the external context, the apparent knowledge of authors who have shaped the history of photography emerges in an unequivocal way, while not lacking a reinterpretation in a personal key by Benaim. The professional background in the field of fashion and architectural photography then makes its compositions highly structured even in contexts where, all things considered, would not surprise the author's involvement. Benaim is yes participant yet at the same time sufficiently detached to maintain his compositions within the rules of considerable formal rigour.

Dalla mostra Sur moi di Laurent Benaim. © Laurent Benaim. From the exhibition Sur moi by Laurent Benaim. © Laurent Benaim.

Another element, which contributes to slacken any suspicion of pornography in Laurent Benaim’s work, is to be found in the choices made during the printing stage. The prints were in fact realised with the gum bichromate technique. This underlining of a technical type, which on average has nothing to do with me, is crucial in terms of the viewer's reaction, as it offers an aesthetic impact that transcends the contents. The inevitably imperfect appearance of the surface caused by the hand made layer distances the cold perfection that modern cameras are able to provide. This makes the content lose the purely descriptive aspect that would confine the images in much less artistic fields.

Un dettaglio dell'allestimento della mostra Sur moi di Laurent Benaim. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag. A detail of the setup of the exhibition Sur moi by Laurent Benaim. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

Moreover, the choice of printing using the gum bichromate process gives the images an aspect that refers to an indefinite past that amplifies the separation from their pure and simple content. In this way, the photographs are relocated in an indefinite area where the perception of the viewer focuses more on the author's ability to bring order than the representative, as he finds himself in front of his objective. However, managing to enter, sometimes, a delicate almost poetic connotation that it is difficult to recognise in similar work.
Another interesting aspect that emerges is the author's conception of sexuality, which means in all its nuances, practically a crux of the existence of every living being. Beyond the easily conceivable correlation with the continuation of the species, in the conception of Benaim sexuality seems to become a foundation of life and, at the same time, become the medium through which to reach a perception of self in relation to a more universal dimension which in some way, refers to the eastern theories on the nature of the universe.

Un dettaglio dell'allestimento della mostra Sur moi di Laurent Benaim. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag. A detail of the setup of the exhibition Sur moi by Laurent Benaim. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

The setup of Sur moi (On me) is very simple, but extremely evocative of the atmosphere dealt with in Laurenat Benaim’s images. The sheets hung along the walls create a functional separation between the background and prints, but at the same time refer to places where pleasure is consumed, especially where they create separate spaces within which the images seem to come alive. A solution that is on the edge of naive but no less effective in the result which it produces. [ Sandro Iovine ]

- - -
by Laurent Benaim
14, rue Réattu - Arles (France)
3 – 10 July 2016
opening times: daily, 10,30 am - 8,00 pm
admission fee: free entrance

– – –

[ FPtag ] Voies Off 2016: the editorial staff point of view
[ exhibitions ] Icons of an inner world by Enrico Doria
[ video ] Prix Voies Off: the winner is Daesung Lee
[ portfolio ] Les Petites filles de Salvatore by Erika Vancouver

[ exhibitions ] Hubert Barre: light, walls and graffiti
[ video ] Palermofoto at Voies Off
[ exhibitions ] Sicily and Marpessa
[ exhibitions ] Mariage en Enfer by Giada Connestari

Voies Off
Laurent Benaim

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published on 2016-08-25 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS



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