Fotograf Magazine

Philippe Jarrigeon

Co se může setkat na operačním stole?

Photographer, Philippe Jarrigeon, developed his own strategy for shooting fashion photography without people. At last, no production problems due to the human factor, no exhausting selection processes and no long hours spent ordering people around and producing, explaining one’s vision. No practicing of that proper gesture, move or pose. Not to mention the money saved on commissions and the heavenly calm during work …

While Austrian artist, Erwin Wurm, discovered for the art world his “one minute sculptures“, literally minimalist sculptures, with low demand for materials (their philosophy consists of a maximum use of the possibilities afforded by the human body, objects and situations deriving from everyday life), young French artist, Philippe Jarrigeon creates his works on a similar basis of ideas but in the sphere of fashion photography.

Erwin Wurm’s sculptures are limited by time. We know most of them only from records and photographs. Their strength however comes from their maximally-dense concentration of expression that thematises the possibilities and limits of the human body.

That which Philippe Jarrigeon creates in his photographs can also be called a sort of temporary sculpture. But to be more precise they are perfectly-arranged assemblages made up of puppets playing out their show in a black-light theatre on the backdrop of a stage curtain.

It is almost a common motto that our time (era) is in a visual trap. Not only is the world over-populated, but also our alternative and virtual lives are: the lives that we lead surrounded by images, publications and billboards of all sorts. Arranged models yell at us from among millions of colour pages with ads all around. Even the most progressive ad campaigns only apprehensively and with great fear deal with concepts that are not based on the beautiful or otherwise visually-attractive faces and bodies of live models (male or female) or show business celebrities. At least a bit of naked human flesh. It still sells the goods and there’s essentially no reason to change (the process).

Even more refreshing is the encounter with image materials created for use in commercial magazines. But he takes the glossy world of glamour based on iconic faces and turns it inside out. He is gets by on fantasy, exaggeration, emphasis of the mundane, with atypical combinations and with a couple of balloons and stuffed gloves and tights. These props are actually able to replace the model’s sexy body. They are malleable. It’s enough to place or categorise them properly, fix them and there is also the advantage of randomly editing proportions in case of need. 

In his photographs Philippe Jarrigeon breaks the figure down into individual elements that consequently draw closer attention to themselves. At the same time he needn’t pay mind to gravity or to any other law of physics. He forces the viewer to play his game. Not to stand idle even during the consumption of commercial images. He does not shove everything under their noses, rather he offers his own portfolio (folder). Each part of this visual folder is – at the same time – a separate object. It is a dot on a grid, capable of living its own life. It is independent, but as part of a whole it is unique (non-repeating).

Such a simple and at the same time exceptionally visually-attractive concept functions on a similar principle as that of the “one minute sculptures.“ They use objects and situations, which often seem so commonplace to us: so much so that we no longer notice them. We do not perceive their existence. They have been pushed out of our sight and we no longer expect their presence at all in the context of fashion or commercial visuals – or in combination with luxury goods. And so our surprise is that much greater, as is our joy from unexpected discovery. And thus the game’s positive effect is that much bigger. These images are not lost in the scrimmage of glossy pages. We remember them, because our sight rested on them for a longer period of time. Because they were able to get our attention: not just bemuse and blind us with false bedazzlement.

The concept of these “fashion assemblages“ forms the basis of Philippe Jarrigeon’s work published in recent years in various life-style and fashion magazines. His fondness of arranged still-lifes combined with the most diverse, acquired scenery makes up the main line of thought of his creations. The artist’s fantasy is able to process and use even such absurd things as two pink boar heads arranged on a black background as a nonchalant still-life. They look at us with human eyes done up in make-up of the type used by the rock group, KISS.

The good, old principles of surrealism are revised here with facility and used to the benefit of joining the fashionable world of luxury, elegance and extravagance with that of the lowbrow, the common, the humorous, and the often partially tasteless, but always human.

It is commerce that will endure in the context of contemporary art and which moves in the imaginary “no man’s land,“ where precisely its lack of classification on one side or the other allows it with ease, and without considerable limitations, to flow in both directions.

Anna Maximová