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Tablaux Vivant

Tableuax Vivants is a series of photographic self-portraits and video works that explore the body of the artist through a number of constructed situations that reflects personal and autobiographical events - both real and imagined.

An exhibition of twelve photographs and three video works were exhibited at the Jersey Arts Centre, Channel Islands in 1-20 Aug 2005. Text below is from exhibition notes.

With inspiration from cinema and the history of painting this series of twelve photographic self-portraits and video works is an antithesis to Baudelaire’s famous essay about the need for a painter who can depict the heroism of modern life in the end of 19th Century fin-de siècle France. Portraying the (anti)heroism of the everyday these large panoramic photographs explore the representation of the male body and are a comment on the crisis in masculinity revealing the complexities of contemporary life of a young man and his estranged relations with family and friends.

The title for this body of work, Tableaux Vivant is directly translated from French as ‘living pictures’. The panoramic photographs represent two separate series, Lonely Performances and Silent Performances. Lonely Performances was photographed in London in 2003 during a week of a relationship break-up and is a series of self-portraits revealing the male figure in despairing and compromising poses. These photographs are both a record of pain, loss, failure and loneliness incurred by events in my private life.

In the second series, Silent Performances I have extended the genre to include myself and family members and friends staged in each of their own, middle-class, domestic and interior spaces. Having lived away from Denmark for more than twenty years these pictures is as much about the emotional pressure of reunion and the strangeness that over the many years of being separated has compounded the relations with my immediate family and old friends. In truth I am more foreign at ‘home’ in Denmark than being a foreigner abroad. This series of photographs have been taken over a period of two years and is an ongoing photographic investigation into notions of relationships. The exhibition also includes three related video works and the entire body of work is very personal and to some extend autobiographical.

The photographs are dealing with the theme of the self and are revealing the psychology of the artist at home in private moments which normally are not on view in public. They are directly challenging the self-portrait of the artist as a hero from the paintings since the renaissance to modernism in art in the 20th century. The notion of the heroic male is traditionally portrayed both in high and low culture as a man of beauty, courage and fortitude. Rarely do we encounter man as vulnerable, insecure, self-doubting and defeated. Taking particular inspiration from the paintings of modern life and domesticity as depicted in the work of Édouard Manet and Édouard Vuillard and other early impressionist paintings of the figure – especially representations of the male body and masculinity as seen in the work of Gustave Caillebotte - this body of work attempts to question the genre of self-portraiture and portray the artist’ body both as subject and object.

Installation pix from exhibition Tableaux Vivant, Jersey Arts Centre, Channel Islands 1-20 Aug 2005