Marc De Blieck


06.04.2014 > 15.06.2014

In Standards, Marc De Blieck (°1958) presents a selection of photographic work from recent years. One’s first impression is of a photo exhibition that does not impose itself upon the exhibition space but appears conservative in its approach, emanating a certain air of museum-like sacredness. The arrangement of the works invites the viewer to approach with caution and to view the images with concentration. Upon closer inspection, the presentation appears to be more radical than one would first assume from the minimalistic, non-installation arrangement. As one progresses through the exhibition it becomes clear that it seeks to invoke contemplation and consideration of what is happening at the periphery of the images and of what the photographic event precisely entails.

The places and artefacts that appear in these photographic works are institutionalised public property: protected monuments, landscapes and museum objects from Belgium and abroad. That which is recognised as public cultural heritage and collected is the result of a selection and categorisation process that is based on external criteria established by shared conventions within a particular cultural frame of reference. Marc De Blieck is interested in the notion of that which is public, as well as its relationship to the medium of photography and its specific conditions and functions. The choice of the ‘commonly known’ as a subject refers to the politics of contemporary digital image culture: the endless flood of digital images that is posted, shared and tagged online each day. A giant record of shared heritage that forms a new and ultimately accessible environment.

Photographic images, in their digital format, represent not a static, two-dimensional medium but a multiplicity of connections between disparate information. Today, however, a photographic image is still very often spontaneously read as a form of notation, as an image written with light, as suggested by the original Greek meaning of the word for photography. The technological evolution of photography has come so far, however, that one cannot speak of photography in isolation. Digital photography is often used as an imitation of what analogue photography once was and can be seen as a medium that makes the display of photography its hyperconventional intention. Marc De Blieck illustrates this principle in his thorough photographic record of cultural heritage. A key inspiration is the 19th century photogrammetry that was used, among other things, to make it possible to recreate cultural artefacts based on photographic records in the event that they would become lost as a result of war or a natural disaster. This is attested to by a photo of such a photographic record from 1918, which depicts the interior of St. James’ Church in Ghent. The artist became fascinated by the unusual standpoint of the (anonymous) photographer and the distorted perspective, both of which are the result of photogrammetric procedures. He recognised in such images his own dyslexic view of reality. In the photographic works on display here, the standpoints of the photographer in these public places do not reveal unique (in)sights. They do not assume a unique position, nor do they articulate a critical value judgement. Rather, within the conventions of the genre, the photographer seeks the consensus of the performing artist: he takes an already-described photographic standpoint and makes already-made images. His standpoints and records are part of a collective repository. From the artist’s careful layering of balanced movements and details, there arises an overall image in which the artist’s assumptions resonate.