Photography is always a capture of an announced death. There is no future in it, said Roland Barthes. What you show will no longer return, if it has ever been.
No wonder it is an artistic expression of those who are seduced by death most. Both the self-portraits that Pierre Molinier staged in the last years of his life locked in his apartment, like the photographs that Antoine d’Agata has been making from himself and other nocturnal specters capture the progressive dissolution of the self, dispersing in a pure emulsion without possible return.
They are two of the photographers chosen by Alberto García-Alix to take part of the exhibition La exaltación del ser (PhotoEspaña 2017), which invites us to establish correspondences between them without impaire the intense singularity of each one.
Molinier was almost septuagenarian when he carried out a series of photos in which using masks, mannequins, black lingerie and mirrors, manipulating also with photomontage, transformed himself into an androgynous being, brimming with onanistic sexuality, profusion of legs in black stockings, elongated by stiletto heels to which adhered phalluses.
The feminine and the masculine, the physical body and the virtual one (multiplied in kaleidoscopic refractions), prosthetics and flesh, spirit and voluptuousness…, the opposites intertwine with each other as the double nature of a hermaphrodite. In that moment dilated by the capture and photographic impression the illusion of completeness seems to to be fulfilled, the totality of the being is manifested, as a primordial Rebis.
In each staging, Molinier invoked that ideal, not guided by any specific foundational myth about the dual nature of the original beings but claiming for himself the magical bisexuality of a shaman, demiurge or progenitor of perverse chimeras (Le chaman et ses créatures).
However, what his photographs show are vulnerable, fragile, broken, incomplete bodies that fail when they try to approach the enclosed perfection of the androgyne (universal archetype that goes through Platonism, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Shamanism…)
His creative compulsion can be interpreted as an irresolvable struggle to match desire and image, a painful struggle for the impossibility of materializing that ideal self, but pleasant as a path of self-knowledge without moral obstacles. He wrote: “I am for some time the melancholy of a fragmented figure. However, in that interval the mystery is revealed”.
His last shot was not photographic but deadly, but before to commit suicide he prepared himself choosing carefully posture and clothing, as it would do in front of the camera.
I who prostituted everything I can still prostitute my death and make of my corpse the last poem; this verse of Leopoldo Maria Panero that could have served as epitaph to Molinier, curiously was chosen by Antoine d’Agata to head one of the chapters of Anticorps catalog.
For D’Agata, too, photography has meant moving towards absence, a rushing towards the edge of pleasure and pain. These are words of Molinier, but extendable to the vital motto of this other photographer of broken bodies, fugitives of themselves, with whom he has shared everything and nothing, because his love is unattachment.
His photos are always self-portraits, even when he remains outside the frame. What he captures in these distorted images is the perceptive alteration, the transience of experience, a fix, rapture, joy … with which he and other naked souls try to alleviate suffering.
Wandering and nocturnal, he leaves pieces of himself in each encounter, he explains, and in that atomization discovers something similar to happiness.
For D’Agata, as for Molinier, photography is liberating because it dilates the only moments in which they have felt themselves true persons; is redeeming because it redeems them from sterile inertia of survive in the void; has allowed them to reinvent themselves and find a way to “be in the world”, but a parallel one.
Marcuse said that the Orphic and narcissistic Eros assumes the principle of polymorphous pleasure to its ultimate consequences, transforming human being, revealing another reality (repressed by the tyranny of progress and productive culture) under the established principle of reality.
Like Narcissus drowning in their own image for not wanting to give up the contemplative pleasure, like Orpheus torn apart by refusing to abdicate the unproductive love, Molinier and D’Agata neither conform to an eroticism that restrict itself perpetuating the repressive order. They adopted the subversive potential of the liberating eros spoken of by Marcuse, even without knowing him.
Pierre Molinier, “Ce fut un homme sans moralité”
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Sala Minerva, Madrid
Until 24th September
(with Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris)
Antoine d’Agata, “Corpus”
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Sala Picasso, Madrid
Until 24th September
Curated by Fannie Escoulen