Valerie Jouve : Suite



May 11th - August 30th, 2017

Suite is dedicated to a series of photographs taken by Valérie Jouve of the Rotana tower beginning in 2013, during the construction phase. Four years later, the artist returned to Jordan, where the finished hotel embodies innovation in a new quarter of the capital, Amman. The photographs exhibited in Venice re-enact with their viewers an experience of the sites performed by the images.

With a documentary aesthetic, Jove’s approach to architecture remains outside the immanent gaze that an architect maintains towards their own project. Sensitive to the upheaval in the district, the photographer grants us access to an epic of the inanimate, selected as a metaphor of the living and the contemporary. The protagonist of these images confronts the tower at street level, or confronts it with the expanse of the urban landscape. Her gaze is that of a transcendental pedestrian who acknowledges, with intuition and majestic exactitude, the obvious or secret relations of scale that are established between the building and the city.

The use of the large-format camera helps the gaze to become more exact. Photographs on film place everything in the light. The images captured at 24 x 36 tell the viewer about the human territory and the major event it is undergoing, the shift from small traders to modern business. Are the movements of old-fashioned trade cousins of the gestures of decision-makers, or not?

Does international trade create a hermetic bubble impenetrable to the surrounding reality? What power relations does the Rotana tower establish with “the reality three streets behind it” that the photographer questions? Do they enter into dialogue or do they grind against each other?

A disciple of Michel Foucault as much as of Walker Evans, Valérie Jouve knows the value of an uncompromising archive when it comes to commitment, pursued as an investigation and concluded with realism.

In counterpoint to the major exhibitions dedicated to her emblematic series – Leaving the Office, Built Landscapes, Façades, The Street, Characters – and held in key venues for contemporary art – the Pompidou Centre, the MAC/VAL, the Jeu de Paume gallery – the site of exchange that is the CA’ASI plays a more experimental role with the artist.

An interaction is sought between the architecture, and an artistic reflection on this architecture. The commission that led the architects to build a tower in Jordan led them, in turn, to commission a work of contemporary art. The intellectual contract between Jouve and Architecture-Studio entailed having to renounce the Rotana tower as a “subject” of the image. It is not the “subject” that makes an image, but the issues that it raises.

Jouve approaches the building as a supplement to her broader interrogation of the way architecture, as a slice of the city, projects the future. Her gaze upon Jordan is also that of a global citizen who has shared the lives of Palestinians and spent a whole year practicing her art in the West Bank. The evolution of the Middle-Eastern city already formed part of her visual and critical image back. There and elsewhere, her images rely on the critical acuity that perception energetically develops in the face of reality, and its silence.

Architecture-Studio curved the cylinder of their tower in order to set it as light as a feather at the foot of the quarter, on a transparent pedestal bursting with life. But Jouve shows things from a different perspective.

Practical information

Cannaregio 6024, Campiello Santa Maria Nova
30121 Venice, Italy
+39 041 24 10 939
Vaporetto: Rialto / Fondamenta Nova