April 14 2009 3 14 /04 /April /2009 16:41
Genesis P-Orridge, lead singer of the Throbbing Gristle, seems to escape from a photograph by David Lachapelle. He is extravagantly bizarre and wears on his face traces of his artistic dimension. He reminds us Amanda Lepore, American photographer’s “muse”. Transatlantic, transgender, transsexual. The shadow behind the color.
The venerable Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris, devotes a particularly interesting retrospective to David Lachapelle, the enfant terrible of the international photography, to May 31, 2009. Surprisingly, the exhibition begins backwards, starting with the latest works and going back to his brilliant beginning, coming back to original icons. We can quickly cut his work on 3 periods, a kind of evil trilogy, corresponding precisely to 3 different periods of Genesis P-Orridge’s carrier. Let’s take backwards from the rear and go back to genesis, without nostalgia. David Lachapelle, like Genesis P-Orridge, from the very beginning, understood everything. The first one on fashion, the other one on rock music. Both incarnate, on their respective domain, the application of an implacable intelligence. David Lachapelle made portraits of famous or anonymous people (Angelina Jolie in Poppy Field, Milk Maid) with an innovative and like anything grace. A style immediately recognizable, an inimitable technique, a running revolution and the brilliant application that you implement an aesthetical concept by giving to see. It’s exactly the same thing with the Throbbing Gristle: they understood that the revolution was the most astonishing on the limited framework of rock music, as a continued and contained implosion, the English band led a frightening holy war. To modify game rules, to be free under laws (well, special laws), it’s like striking down the dragon.
Sailing up the Styx, you arrive to Revelation, the mystical exploration: "the Heaven to Hell" or "Deluge" series by Lachapelle. This religious possession is equivalent to Psychic TV, Genesis P-Orridge band. He attempts the more or less spontaneous conversion of industrial adepts, implementing a quasi-ecumenical dimension of nebulous grouping around the TOPY (Temple Ov Psychick Youth). It’s time for preaching and transcendental questioning. Both wish to find themselves on a deviate and deviant faith, forswearing their sins on an artistic blasphemy. They try to show us the way, to lead us to their own after-life, to make us penetrate the vision, to open our third eye. They mostly open the sea of rupture.
Third and last movement of the evolution, the format exit. David Lachapelle explores the 3rd dimension with cardboard installations issued from his photographs and Genesis P-Orridge exhorts, exults, exists through Thee Majesty, expressing Lady Jaye’s soul. The puffy impressions of Lachapelle (Holy War) are only interesting by the poor material (cardboard) perfectly combining with his exploration of futility and fragileness. The rest, the themes (Holy War, worsened consumerism fight, redemption on lust), the terribly didactic aspect, the overrated compositions, transform Lachapelle’s latest works into monsters of inutility. Like the frog wishing to be as big as the ox, wanting to change his status, his dimension, from photographer to artist, he changes from artist to photographer. By keeping on wanting to say too much, badly, you end by spoiling the message and sinking into a devastating anything. Thee Majesty is on the same display. By keeping on wanting to say too much, badly, you end up by spoiling the message. The anything is less devastating because it stays on a musical field, even if it wants to pride itself, to ennoble itself under the metallic gildings of the Pompidou Center or comes closer to Orlanesc reasoning. Why looking after the sun when you shine so much on the shadow? They both totally mastered their art. They left us the choice, the right to reinterpret, to understand, or not, an innovative and solitarian reasoning. They walk now among others, in the middle of a crowd of famous anonymous.
What’s salvation now? It is still fascinating to analyze the evolution of an artist on the long range, refusing hasty judgments, looking after perpetual struggle on long periods. A new phony war somewhere. Do not forget that they are still able to surprise us with real Grace moments. Talent, it’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget: the "Awakened" and "Recollections in America" series (Lachapelle becomes artist), the Part two. Endless Not and PTV3 (Genesis reminding himself he’s still able to invent the future). Maybe they can try, now, a naturally unnatural alliance. Will they dare to court disaster and create Lachapelle Ov Psychick Youth? Everything is possible with these two revered f(r)iends…
[Visuels : above, David Lachapelle, Awakened: Jesse, 2007. Photographie. Courtesy : David Lachapelle & Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris. Below: David Lachapelle, When the World is Trough, 2005. Photographie. Courtesy : David Lachapelle & Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris]