Notes from the Arts + Crafts Research Studio of Andrew Cornell Robinson
According to Carl Jung, scientific experimental inquiry has often resulted in a psychologically biased view of the natural world, which discounts that which cannot be statistically grasped. The perceptions of unique intangibles may amass a chaotic collection of curiosities, rather like those old natural history cabinets where anatomical monsters are suspended in bottles, and just next to that is the horn of a unicorn, a dried carcass of a mermaid and a stack of 19th century “spirit” photos all presented as “evidence” of the inexplicable anomalies of the physical world. And while each of these things can be easily revealed as a hoax by a thinking person, ephemeral events and manufactured relics are continually rationalized to exist as fragmentary beliefs in a person’s mind. A mind where dreams or fantasies are confused with reality
It is humankind’s ongoing attempts to fathom the relationship between the corporeal and the spiritual that seem to have led artist Jean-Michel Fauquet to explore his phantasmagorical imaginings through constructed realities, meticulously crafted, photographed, and manipulated into a series of unhinged events and made up relics whose meaning has been lost to the frail memory of history.
While Fauquet’s primary medium is photography, his work begins with the construction of settings, objects made of cardboard, dust, dirt, paper clips, glue and the mysteries of the soul. The exhibition consists of two large scale portraits with peculiar implements inserted into the mouth of the subject. There are also a multitude of close-ups of what Fauquet terms “unnamable objects”. The artist’s initial preparation begins with making sketches of imaginary things which are then constructed and photographed. The negatives are then scratched and drawn upon, and the prints are seeped in oil paint highlights and a residue of wax. The result is more like a drawing than a photograph.
There are images of stairway labyrinths leading no where and yet there is an uncanny paramnesia, a déjà vu which may settle on the mind grasping for some recognition and the comfort of understanding the incomprehensible. These settings where a heap of cloth serves as an understudy for a mountain range allows the artist and the viewers’ minds eye to believe that a faux-relic construction when photographed becomes an image of a monumental thing; a theatrical crescendo crafted out of darkness rather than light. These incredible relics thus require a mysterious setting deepened with the patina of a black edge that underlines the opposition to the edge of the image within the image, and the belief or imaginings within the artist and the viewers’ mind. The resulting work is an enigma; a created illusion, a mimic which imitates the natural world and implies a divinity where there is none.
By Andrew Cornell Robinson
Written for the Gay City News
Jean-Michel Fauquet – “Kaïros”
3 May through 30 June 2007
Haim Chanin Fine Arts
121 West 19th Street 10th Floor
New York, NY 10011