Christian Caujolle, 2010
  17èmes Rencontres de la jeune photographie internationale de Niort
   
 
The matter is settled and, anyway, we never discussed it. Nicolas is not a photographer, as he explained perfectly during the presentation of the works for which he had been selected by the jury. As a very young artist investigating questions of space, he sees himself more in a practice of sculptor than in any other, but in considering sculpture in what is currently its most frequent concern, that is, a questioning of space. So, Nicolas moves into places, with a predilection for old workshops, factories, industrial wastelands and other settings marked by an abandoned activity, he establishes himself there, takes over the place and moves, replaces or installs the objects found in place without ever feeling the need to bring in new ones. He puts together tints and materials, looks, moves an element again and, like any good sculptor, turns around his object, and studies the way it modifies, creates and defines the overall space. Then he chooses what he feels is the most judicious perspective from which we, in looking, can perceive what he is getting at. It must be added that his installations, although done with precision – one is after all not Swiss for nothing – always remain discreet and light, never demonstrative or spectacular. And this where photography comes in. Nicolas photographs the result of his work. To keep a trace, and also so as better to see. Photography as memory and as tool in work, within a creative process. And with nothing more, it could have been said upon seeing the images presented as the start of the residency. Nothing more, except that there could already be perceived, certainly not formulated precisely, a real attention to the work of the light and a carefulness brought to framing and point of view which, combined with the question of materials and of how they were given prominence through the lighting, demonstrated yet again how what is most interesting in photography establishes a far richer profound dialogue with sculpture than with painting, which it aped deplorably.
Multiple reasons led us not to discuss the question of whether Nicolas was a photographer. Firstly, there were much more important ones to address, at every moment. Then, this question underlying the old debate between art and photography and that has empoisoned – and continues to pollute – stupidly, the perception of the photographic image for over a century and a half was not worthy of our spending time on. There is more to life than photography, fortunately, and life is far too short for us to waste on discussing questions that should no longer be.
Nicolas was perhaps not a photographer, but, fortunately for us, there was Nicolas. With his absence of preconceptions, his courtesy, his humour, his laughter and his big heart of true generosity and attentive tenderness. A Nicolas who, before anything else, needed – and this is never easy – to find a space or spaces in which to work. There were desires and impossibilities. And, inevitably, there were discoveries and pleasures, surprises, objects, light, boxes, dust, rubbish and even, very welcome, an abandoned raincoat that was to come in most handy. Without appearing to interfere, with no apparent effort, with real economy of means, Nicolas set himself a few objectives and decided not to produce many images but to bring them to excellence. Finding locations, learning about light, listening to the advice of other participants or of our brilliant technical advisors, he went straight to the point. A tighter frame, more determined and, I think, a finer and deeper understanding of what is, in its nature, the medium that he does not valorise in itself but out of which, with regard to his intention, he was able to get the most. I have the feeling, whether he likes it or not, that Nicolas, if he was not a photographer – which is of no interest in itself nor any importance in fact – at the end of the residency, had learned a certain number of things about the inner workings of photography and that he had implemented its possible effectiveness. Moreover, he was the first to have finished his contribution. And really well.
I think that Nicolas, continuing his work with rigor, is quite simply more of a photographer than before. How else to explain that, on the last day, he should take the initiative, just for fun, to set up his tripod to make black-and-white portraits of all the participants, and that, for the first time, he had with jubilation developed his first rolls of film? But I just mention that like that...

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