RUINES#1: Nicolas Giraud, Fire Season, 2016

[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW]

FIRE SEASON ou la décomposition du paysage en feu
Propos de Nicolas Giraud

Pendant l’été 2016, PUNTO DE FUGA a réuni un groupe de photographes, de commissaires d’exposition, de cinéastes, de critiques d’art et d’éditeurs autour de l’Observatoire du Livre, un programme de rencontres et d’explorations visuelles pour interroger le rapport de la photographie et du cinéma aux phénomènes scientifiques non visibles à l’œil nu.

La forêt, le feu: dispositifs visuels pour une exposition 

Dans le fil des discussions qui se sont tenues le long des rencontres au Centre d’Astronomie de Saint Michel L’Observatoire, Nicolas Giraud a évoqué les tenants philosophiques et artistiques de son dernier projet, La forêt, le feu, un travail de collection et d’exposition porté sur divers aspects de sa recherche visuelle : la décomposition de l’image, l’anonymat en photographie, le tragique et le banal et enfin, l’erreur comme mode de penser, d’imprimer et d’exposer la photographie.

Un des aspects de l’imperceptibilité de la photographie était abordée par Nicolas Giraud sous le prisme d’une plus vaste question : celle de la décomposition de l’image, par son contenu mais aussi par sa forme. En collectionnant une série de photographies anonymes de scènes d’incendies, c’est toute la représentation du paysage en feu qui est devenue pour Nicolas une source de recherche.

Quelle est la symbolique et quels sont les mécanismes visuels par lesquels ces images conduisent ou induisent une certaine forme de dissolution et de destruction symbolique et visuelle?  Par quels dispositifs d’impression et d’exposition ces images trouvées vont réactiver une forme de vandalisme de la photographie poussant l’aspect tragique, fataliste et pourtant banal d’une image d’incendie à sa propre dissolution (symbolique et visuelle)?

Ce travail a trouvé sa place dans plusieurs expositionsChaque exposition était accompagnée de l’édition d’un autocollant avec une des photographies imprimées en 1000 exemplaires. Les autocollants sont numérotés dans l’ordre de leur production et porte le nom de leur producteur.  Distribuer cet auto-collant, c’était pour Nicolas une forme de réactivation de l’image qui, par son statut même de document imprimé en abondance, mais existant seulement en petit format, allait rapidement s’épuiser et perdre aussi son nom d’origine en devenant une image accroché, fixée sur tous les supports possibles.

Voici les reflexions portées par Nicolas sur ce projet, repris en retrospective avec l’édition d’une carte postale. Nous les avons retranscrites tel qu’elles nous ont été transmises.

Fire Season

“Sous la forme d’objets, d’ephemera, d’expositions ou de simples conversations, Fire Season constitue un cycle de travaux utilisant la figure de l’incendie pour interroger la circulation et la dissémination des images. La pièce centrale de ce cycle a été amorcée en 2013. Elle consiste en une série d’autocollants représentant des incendies. Ces images sont imprimées et offertes. Elles capturent, brièvement, quelque chose qui ne peut être capturé. Le choix des autocollants est une manière d’aborder ces espaces mouvants et instables.

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Nicolas Giraud, Fire Season (#1-#10), 2013-2016

Cette forme un peu archaïque de la collection d’autocollants permet également de penser la constitution d’un ensemble d’images. La production des autocollants suit un protocole précis. On ne peut en acquérir la collection complète qu’en devenant le producteur d’un nouvel autocollant, et donc en augmentant cette collection.

Fire season est une tentative d’appréhender un paysage en feu, c’est-à-dire un espace visuel, sensible et architectural qui soit à la fois extrêmement puissant et dans le même temps instable, temporaire et pris dans le mouvement impérieux de sa propre destruction.

En 2016, une exposition a été réalisée à Los Angeles à partir de ce projet*. L’exposition est construite à partir d’une expérience de l’incendie. Il y eu plusieurs déplacements pour approcher un incendie géant dans les environs de la ville. Cette expérience est racontée, sous la forme d’un échange ou d’un texte. Une carte postale a été réalisée à partir d’une photographie des environs de l’incendie.

La carte postale est assez décevante, un arbre dans une plaine encaissée. L’image est rouge et orange, comme tout le reste du paysage ce jour-là. Au lieu de montrer un monument que chacun connaît et pourrait visiter, la carte montre un endroit sur le point de disparaître. C’est l’image d’un événement, ou du moins une manière de montrer l’écart entre la catastrophe médiatisée et son expérience sensible”.

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Nicolas Giraud, La Forêt, le feu, 5 novembre 2016 – 19 mars 2017, CNEAI=, Chatou
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Nicolas Giraud, Fire Season, Dumont Gallery, 03.07.2016 – 03.09.2016
La carte postale est le seul objet produit pour cette exposition. Elle est donnée ou envoyée, comme un rituel, pour accompagner l’histoire de l’incendie. L’histoire et la carte postale constituent l’exposition Fire season. Envoyée à Paris, la carte postale sert de point de fuite à une nouvelle exposition intitulée La forêt, le feu.**

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FIRE SEASON or the dissolution of fire landscapes
Nicolas Giraud

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Nicolas Giraud, Honor thy error as hidden intention, 2013 /  Fire season#7, 1000 ex., 5,5×8 cm

During the summer 2016, PUNTO DE FUGA gathered a group of photographers, museum curators, art critics and filmmakers around The Book Observatory, a program of meetings and visual experiments to explore the role of invisible phenomena in cinematographic and photographic artistic practices and research.

La forêt, le feu (The forest, the fire): visual devices for an exhibition

During those meetings that took place at Centre d’Astronomie of Saint Michel L’Observatoire in the south of France, Nicolas Giraud shared the philosophical and artistic tenants of his latest exhibition and printed research called La forêt, le feu

Starting with a collection of found images of fire landscapes, Nicolas Giraud shared the visual implications of this visual research on an archive he was just creating. Many things where discussed: the decomposition of the image, the anonymity of a found document, the tragic and so banal aspect of a fire landscape photograph, the mistake as a philosophical and visual exercice for printing and exhibiting series.

Among this vast thoughts, there was one in particular that this discussion brought out to light : how could the archive of found images containing fire landscape scenes leading to the dissolution of the image?

What was not rendered visible here, was specifically this symbolic power of the photograph that a visual mechanism could reactivate or accentuate. To illustrate this strange exercice of exhibiting and printing to better dissolve a photograph, Nicolas got the most banal and tragic landscape collection to experience its own loss of meaning (visual and symbolic meaning).

This work was exhibited in several galeries with the title of Fire Seasons. Each exhibition was producing a small series of numbered stickers, printed up to a 1000 copies, with an image from the collection on the front and the name of the season and the gallery inviting on the back numbered specifically as Fire season (#1-#12). Distributing this images was for Nicolas Giraud a perfect tool to reactivate a form of anonymity of the image. Given this anecdotical format of the sticker and printed out in a very wide run, each Fire season image would very ofter been lost, sticked or travel from hand to hand until its own disappearance. Sticking it was also a form of making the image loose its title and its reference.

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Nicolas Giraud, Fire season, Série N°12, Keymouse, 2016 / 1000 exemplaires, Gratuit/Available for free

Here are the words written by Nicolas about this project. They come out at an important moment for him, as the entire image selection has been exhibited at the Cneai as a retrospective. The show has also lead to the production of a postcard. Here are his thoughts exactly as he send them to us:

Fire Season – Los Angeles Exhibition : an illustration

“There was the project of an exhibition in Los Angeles. Once there, I realized how difficult it was to navigate in the city. Going to an exhibition in LA can’t be improvised. Having people come to an exhibition would make them travel for maybe a couple of hours. I wasn’t sure if they would make that trip and if I wanted to have the responsibility of it.

So I decided to do an exhibition that could be remembered without the need for a visit. This exhibition could be a conversation, something that could happen anywhere, when I would encounter someone, and require only his or her attention. I thought of a ritual. I would give you something after the conversation, an object that would mark and inscribe the exchange of words.

The first element of the exhibition was the idea that a fire is burning at the very moment of the discussion (and most likely at the very moment of this reading). Just right now, forest and bushes are burning; part of a landscape is on fire.

The title of the exhibition was chosen in advance, because of my long lasting fascination for fire* and also because that time of the year, in that part of the world, was often marked by extensive and ferocious brush fires. Upon arriving in California, I paid attention to the news, and it was less than a week before a fire started that would destroy more than 40.000 acres. I would drive three times to the site of the fire. Each trip to the fire was different but equally disappointing.

Most disasters are disappointing at first. They’re hard to measure and happen at a scale larger than ours. It’s only with a distance that you realize what you saw. Our experience of the fire was happening at another level, a sensible experience that has nothing to do with the televised event. The experience of the fire was an intimate one.

The first time we went to see the fire was in broad day. The fire had started 24 hours before and was already spreading fast. It was more than an hour to reach the site, its frontier was uncertain. We would drive in empty canyons roads until the police or the firemen block us. That first time we didn’t saw any flames. Yet the sky was red and it was raining ashes. When we were going out of the car, the heat was palpable, filled with a smell of burning wood. The fire was on the other side of the hill, helicopters are crossing the sky constantly. In the following days, some of these places were to be destroyed by the flames.

Two days after, while the fire was still raging, fueled by the wind and drought, we went back at the end of the day. We found ourselves in a residential community. People were outside their houses, waiting to see how things would turn. Cars were loaded to face the sudden order to evacuate. At the top of the hill, overlooking the residential area, the flames were visible, threatening the houses below. Helicopters dropping chemicals, trying to stop the fire progression, were cheered by the inhabitants. Some kid was bicycling around.

Four days later, we made a third and last trip at dusk. The fire was under control for the most part. An officer granted us access to a canyon road that was about to re-open. We drove through that empty road, where everything had turned gray. Black trees were still standing, their trunks burned to black. Ashes were covering everything. Here and there, a bush has kept its leaves, it is hard to know what has burned and what has just been drown in smoke. Scarce houses / properties stands, like forts that have been defended in an harsh battle.

I used one of the images I took on the first day to make a postcard. It is a slightly disappointing image, a tree standing in bushy landscape. The image is red and orange, as the land was at that time. Instead of showing a monument or a place where one can refer and come to visit, the postcard shows a threatened place that was about to disappear. One can say it is the image of an event, or at least an attempt to point the difference between the mediated disaster and the sensible experience of it. The postcard is the only object in the exhibition I made in California. It was send or given to every person who I would told this experience of the fire. The story and the postcard constitute the exhibition”.

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Nicolas Giraud, Fire Season, Dumont Gallery, 03.07.2016 – 03.09.2016
*FIRE SEASON was also the title of a work initiated in 2013. It is a series of stickers bearing images of large fires. These found images are printed and offered. They capture, but just briefly, something that can’t be captured. The choice to print small stickers is a way to deal with the instability of theses changing spaces. It is also a tool to question the circulation and accumulation of images. The production of these stickers is defined by a protocol. The work is an attempt to apprehend a landscape of fire — a visual, sensible and architectural space, powerful yet instable and temporary, caught in the imperious process of its self-destruction.

Retrospective en France/ Main Exhibition in France:

Nicolas Giraud
La forêt, le feu
05.11.2016-19.03.2017
Cneai=
Île des impressionnistes
78400 Chatou

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