The look of Richard Petit reveals signs of human activity in the landscape. Working to show the monumental, he attempts to confront the essence of the Sacred and the residue of human technology which leaves its print on Nature.
Christophe Laloi – Voies Off
Before it became the art of the decisive moment, so beloved of Henri Cartier Bresson, photography had long remained the trace of the static, slow and prolonged presence. In its beginnings, photography fixed instants already immobile: portraits, still lives and landscapes. Once equipped with the rapidity which allowed it to capture movement, photography devoted itself to preserving moments so fleeting that they escaped our conscious vision and could only be seen when revealed by the photographic print. As if in a return to its origins – and as if in counterpoint to the flood of televisual and digital images – a large part of contemporary photographic expression would seem to be leading us back to a contemplation of long silent moments. However, this is not exactly the case. For all that the honesty of vision attributed to photography throughout the modern period (that of the enthusiastic early stages) affirmed the medium’s desire to show the world as it really is, the post-modern disenchantment with the truth has installed a doubt as to the documentary importance of images, no matter how much clearer, how much more faithful to a perceived reality they may appear. Perhaps what the photography of today is really showing is the enigmatic impenetrability of form; the strange lack of tangibility of things and beings, once deprived of a descriptive. Faced with this uncertain world (or rather, being a part of it) the photographer is no longer required to illustrate a reality that cannot be found, but to testify to his own presence within it.
Photography has the extraordinary capacity of renewing our contact with what invariably precedes speech: the purely sensorial. Richard Petit’s work reminds us that photography is both more and less than a text. It is a return to a modest vision of a world without signs, a way towards that which forms the basis of our essential relationship with things, and which can only be expressed through poetry or art, whether it be pictorial, musical or photographic.
Christian Maccotta / les Boutographies / translation Peter Vass