|PARIS, September 11 - On a quiet, windy
Saturday, as puffy cumulus clouds gradually boiled ominously black, an
exhibition of Hedi Slimane's photography opened at the Galerie
Almine Rech, located on a disparate street of the
13th Arrondissement. On the horizon, the four antiseptic towers of the
Mitterand loom like beacons, but the sprinkling of ethnic grocery stores,
dingy bars and rows of drab concrete-slab apartment buildings give the
neighborhood a whiff of stark urban decay. In short, the unfashionable
location is exactly where you might expect to find fashionable people
in search of the avant-garde.
Hedi is full of contrast - a man who's keen eye for pop culture, rock
concerts and street smart chic has greatly influenced his work, but whose
natural inclination is always towards the aesthete. A man whose inspiration
might be working class Berlinerweiss, but whose personal taste likely
runs towards Veuve Cliquot.
So his projects outside of Dior Homme are particularly interesting,
as they give the clearest glimpse of the designer
dismantled from a luxury label. Among the first to arrive at today's vernissage was a contingency
from LVMH, headed by Delphine Arnault, daughter of the millionaire financier
and a key supporter of Slimane. As a cleaning lady washed and polished
the front windows, the group looked over the exhibition, a joint project
with American artist, James Turrell.
Hedi's photography, black and white images taken from his newly
published book "Stage", as well as several unpublished shots, are displayed
on four camera-looking devices mounted on black tripods and positioned
before whitewashed walls. If there is an underlying
theme, it is that Hedi's lens captures the energy of young men in motion. Un-posed and
unrehearsed, the boys are caught shirtless and sweating, arms reaching
out, celebrating and singing - a veritable tableau of joie de vivre.
But there is a surrealistic quality in the darkness of the photography,
as if a pervasive melancholy permeates each frame. Ephemeral beauty may
flash one moment, before vanishing into shadowy mists the next. Hedi
Slimane is a master of capturing that essence - the grace of light and
darkness in play, and the resulting energy is what gives his work so
Unadorned, un-manipulated, unframed, "Stage" tells us as much
about the artist as it does the subjects in his view finder.
James Turrell + Hedi Slimane
September 11 - October 6
Galerie Almine Rech
127, rue du Chevaleret
Tel: + 33 1 45 83 71 90