Sleepdrunk (making friends)

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"Sleepdrunk (making friends)" was a curatorial project Sébastien submitted to a gallery, which accepted the proposal. The following is a press release wrote at this occasion. The project never saw the light, however, as the interaction it required could not take place.

What to say about a show when the works have not been chosen yet? Sleepdrunk (making friends) will gather two collections of snapshots, two personal chronicles for a curatorial experiment: Sunna's life in pictures will be sampled by Sébastien and vice versa. A myriad of images, each chosen by either one, will fill the exhibition space.

Selecting what is to be seen, a crucial step in the authorial view, is here relinquished to a fresh acquaintance. This decision of mutual trust echoes a dedramatized approach to photography: an everyday practice, collateral to their artistic production (they are both art students), free from problem sets and conceptual considerations. For their pictures do not allude to photography as a self-reflective medium, but merely as a way to document, to present something (one photo, posted on Flickr, bears the warning "No artistic value here. I am an ass.") Yet their work is informed by a strong visual culture and displays an undeniable aesthetic quality.

The informality of their practices allows for archives of considerable size, that the exhibition aims at representing by showing hundreds of pictures. The sheer number of images will probably overwhelm the most disciplined audience, permeating their memory in a diffuse impression of the photographers’ worlds. Roland Barthes famously distinguished two concepts in the reception of a photographic image: the studium relates to the shared reading of a picture, its cultural interpretation, and the punctum, to the personal apprehension, “that accident which pricks me — but also bruises me, is poignant to me". This exhibition, in its disregard for the model of the crown jewels on display and its operation of saturation, reverses the articulation of these concepts: the punctum exists to such an extent that the studium prevails.

One could finally wonder what Sunna's and Sébastien's pictures have in common in terms of content and question the relevancy of this encounter. The interrogation is however perturbed by the process of cross-curation: its outcome is a plethora of autobiographic images, each hinting at its maker but betokening both gazes. The resulting collection reveals its authors and is nevertheless a synthesis, obfuscating any reading of a pure individuality. This systematic permutation of roles thus triggers reciprocated views and introduces a new component of intersubjectivity in the presentation of the works that invalidates a blind application of the postmodernist trope of identity/difference. The matching game is vain.

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