Patrick Mimran’s photographic images are at once familiar and enigmatic. Detailed and in extremely high definition, they inventory a world we might not have expected to see displayed in this way: escalators in shopping malls, shop windows, subway and car park entrances – all usually devoid of human presence. Th… Read More
Patrick Mimran’s photographic images are at once familiar and enigmatic. Detailed and in extremely high definition, they inventory a world we might not have expected to see displayed in this way: escalators in shopping malls, shop windows, subway and car park entrances – all usually devoid of human presence. The precision of the composition and effects contrasts with the uncertainty emanating from the image’s muteness. The visual is to the fore, while meaning seems to have withdrawn, but just behind the band of visibility, behind the surface.
The series After is condensed within an endlessly repeated plastic formulation, rather in the manner of Andy Warhol’s Shadows, of which they are the diametrical opposite: views of skies lined with clouds. The only information provided concerns the place where the photo was presumably taken: After in America, After in Japan, After in North Carolina, After in Mali, etc. Conducive to contemplation, each view of the sky compels the gaze with the sovereign beauty of the clouds, of the luminous effects, of the iridescence mimetically conveyed by the image. It is as if Nature wanted to offer us this sumptuous spectacle that the photographer has simply plucked, optically, like a ripe fruit. At the same time, this contemplation of the sky is the fruit of metaphors that are probably as old as human consciousness itself, and relate to the magical thinking that associates the sky with the gods. “I love the clouds… passing clouds… over there… over there… the marvellous clouds!” exclaims Baudelaire’s Stranger. But then the Bible, too, gave us Job’s words to go by: “[…] reflect on the marvellous works of God. Do you know how God controls them or how his clouds make the lightning flash? Do you know how he balances the clouds, a miracle of consummate skill.”
After also speaks of time and events. The question being, “after what?” What has happened? A storm, a catastrophe, simple, ordinary moments that we have not even noticed? Each image here indexes a little bit of local temporality, through the weather and in the appearance of the sky. But that is all we will ever know. Might the instantaneous be fusing with eternity here? Patrick Mimran leaves us with our questions, while our gaze is absorbed by his magnificent compositions, pulling our earthbound selves towards something transcendent, superhuman, divine. Read Less