The photographic work of Valérie Jouve has developed around two entities: Humans and landscapes, and more generally the city and its outskirts. Each image is constructed around the notion of an encounter between bodies, whether they are individuals, architectures, or landscape components. Thus, when Valérie Jouve photographs people, while the image is the pretext for the meeting, in the end, it’s the meeting that becomes the pretext for the image. While the photograph is only a surface, it becomes a means of relaying a certain form of empathy.
Valérie Jouve approaches the photographic medium not as a way of showing, but more to feel and stimulate the viewer’s intuitive rapport. While each work retains its own autonomy, the work spreads out in space. Like a musical composition, Valérie Jouve considers the hanging of works as a way of producing motion that arises from the coexistence between images.
It is therefore natural that Valérie Jouve turned to motion pictures, making her first film, Grand Littoral, in Marseille, as early as 2003. During a trip in 2008, Valérie Jouve discovers Israel and the Palestinian Autonomous Territories. Fascinated, she undertakes the long task of collecting, through photography and film, whatever forms their identity – capturing the characters and the daily representation of their cities, making them act like emblematic figures.
This new personal exhibition at Galerie Xippas is the occasion to present her new film, Traversée (Crossing). Begun in 2010, this film is a road movie crossing five Palestinian cities (A book, entitled Portrait de six villes palestiniennes, featuring a series of 150 images is due to be released by Actes Sud in spring 2014):
“The crossing of the territory is dictated by a quirky and improbably trio: a child, a puppeteer and his puppet, and his poorly-identified double (as an element creating ties). Their relationship is tender, but tumultuous. These two characters are not the protagonists of the film, but more couriers of this territory. They bring the human relationships back into play, extracted from a simple reading of the conflict, to restore another reality of life there.” – Valérie Jouve
At the same time, Valérie Jouve presents a series of still images, as if taken out of the film. The contemplative gaze inspired by the landscapes in large format is constantly vitalized by images of passers-by that throw the visitor into the turmoil of the city. At eye level, the lines trace bridges; the bodies are echoed to form an atmosphere where the images literally accompany the flow of visitors, thereby creating the necessary interactions for the meeting. Valérie Jouve’s photographs extend outside their framework, beyond what they represent; they examine the body’s affinities in relation to a place, and the way in which bodies construct these places. This exhibition confirms her choice to use the film medium (view camera and 16 mms.) as a body in itself.
A monographic book about the work of Valérie Jouve, entitled Résonance, edited by Ute Eskildsen, was published by Steidl editions in 2012 (ISBN: 978-3-86521-625-0).
On the occasion of this exhibition, Valérie Jouve suggested composer and multi-instrument player Raoul Colosimo create a dialogue with each picture. He decided to work on the theme of Palestine in Canone Inverso, which involves writing in a perfect mirror: from left to right and from right to left, the two voices are then superimposed to create the greatest harmony.
Not only will one of the composers invite the audience to come into the exhibition, but Raul Colosimo will also come to play every work live at the gallery, and thus will propose the viewer to interact with the pictures through their presence within the sound. His performed compositions will be recorded several times, not only to save an example of freedom of interpretation, but also to create a work of art in itself: a vinyl book.
Valérie Jouve will definitely work on the core of the movie, which is why Raul Colosimo will come to support her with the bass clarinet and also the analogical backing of the vinyl. The gallery space and its acoustic qualities add to the creation of this evolving work of art.
Valérie Jouve was born in 1964 in Saint-Étienne. She lives and works in Paris. Since her first exhibition at the MAC de Marseille in 1995, she has participated in numerous exhibitions in Europe and in the United States. The Centre Georges Pompidou was the first to present her photographic works made in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, in 2010. Her works were presented at The Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany in 2005, at The IAC in Villeurbanne in 2003, and at The Winterthur Museum in Switzerland in 2002. Her first film, Grand Littoral, was presented at numerous festivals, as well as The MOMA in New York in 2004. It received the Festival International du Film Documentaire de Marseille prize. In 2007, she made her third film, Munster Lands, invited by Skulptur Projekte 07, which was presented in Munster, Germany. Her works are included in major public collections: MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; The Fondation NSM Vie/ABN-AMRO; Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam, Holland; and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in The United States.