Hélène Binet: Time After Time

27 Sep—23 Nov 2019
Time after Time is a solo exhibition of photographic works by the Swiss-French photographer Hélène Binet. A newly commissioned text by Olivier Richon accompanies the exhibition, an excerpt of which below:

In Hélène Binet’s photography, direct light and diffuse light form different kinds of shadow. The direct light highlights texture but also occludes, forming contrasts that emphasise depth and volume. Diffuse light flattens and also renders details differently: in the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, China, a wall becomes an imaginary landscape, its stains beginning to resemble clouds.

In Chinese, one word for photography is Yingxiang, which translates approximately as ‘shadow image’. Shadows conceal, but a shadow is also a doubling, an index of the object that causes it. Photography, this form of writing where light is a type of ink, illuminates as much as it obscures. Binet’s photographs of China are calligraphic, painterly; creeping moss on the walls creates the effect of feathered brushstrokes, while slender bamboos rise in bold lines from the stone floor, bisecting the frame. Her images of Hadrian’s Villa, Rome, render its subject even more abstract. The images are undiluted play of light and shade, where the deep blacks of a stone archway, seen from below, meet the white drift of a cloud, pushing towards and away from one another.

If, for Le Corbusier, architecture is a machine for living, it is also a machine for seeing. The building acts like a camera. Hélène Binet’s lens enters into a dialogue about seeing these buildings differently, often getting close, defamiliarising a once-familiar building. She demonstrates eloquently that photography, as architecture, can be a pure creation of the mind.

Hélène Binet

Writing by
Olivier Richon

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