Iseult Labote,The Industrial World and the Truth Claim of Pictures
Text by Vanessa Morisset, Art Critic and Philosopher at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2002
Iseult Labote’s industrial variations
Text by Fabien Franco, art historian, 2008
Her attention is drawn by the asperities of a world under construction. Her works reveal a same movement, which, despite its multiple variations, consistently subsists. How does Iseult Labote succeed to deliver the raw material of an unsuspected sensitiveness?
On a building site, an almost lying down silhouette waits for the light or simply the right moment to release the shutter and capture what the construction workers deal with every day, without discerning anything else besides their common professional environment. For Iseult Labote in exchange, the wires, concrete reinforcing bars, concrete mixers, mitre` boxes and other pallets on which the building materials rest before being used, sharpen the inspiration, before rousing emotions: “I have been dawdling in this environment for several years. You can see me climbing, descending the stairs, kneeling down here and there, asking the workers. I do not seek to reveal the architect’s greatness but to enhance the details, these elements that make the urbanisation process". The objective’s lenses capture thus the lights, the contrasts, the textures, conferring to the photographic images the sensitive strength of neo-impressionism. But where some artists of contemporaneous art would claim the pleasure of consumption, such as the Genevese Sylvie Fleury, Iseult Labote claims the glorification of industrial work and of the people who manipulate every day these tools, machines and materials the creation process is based on.
The close-up technique of these photographic paintings uses the contrasts, freeing the object from its primary nature, while revealing a startling aestheticism. And an entire world is born a second time and is approached in its intimacy. It is relevant to recall the paintings of Fernard Léger, “one of the painters I admire the most”, confides the artist, in which the building workers embed the western industrialisation. On the large-format photographs, as close as possible to the matter and the machines are also valued these original ready-made: edge insulation strips (the blue circles), screens (numbered sieve grates) of the name of the object and worker using them. All of a sudden, a dialogue starts after the surprise has seduced a perception outraged by modern world’s messages. The artist turns these construction objects into artworks and manages to the same extent to reveal to the watcher the pervasiveness of the aesthetic feeling.
Further, the series named “empreintes” as an homage to Niele Toroni, or the initials of the contemporaneous art museum written in nails, screws or nuts on sheets used in constructions: “MET, MOMA, MAMCO, CCB, MEAC, as many acronyms that may seem abstract to neophytes and reflect what the contemporaneous art represents for many, but it also a means of surmounting the industrial abstractness whose materials are known (and understood) only by trained people and users (workers and engineers)” comments the Genevese artist. The reflection follows its course with these handbags (limited edition) in grain-embossed leather on which the impression of a photograph resulting from urban landscapes outlines once more the close link existing between the object, as sophisticated as it may be, and the industry. The industrial object that shapes the world we see, use, taste and breathe.
Far from taking us away from it, Iseult Labote’s works tend to bring it closer through clearly defined sensitive representations, provided with a pacifying and soothing, almost reassuring power. The approach undoubtedly wants to be positive, a way of giving back to the world its humanity part. And this recurrence of contrasts, of to-and-fro between two realities, distinguishes best the maieutic of this Greco-Swiss artist which reminds us at any moment that the humans are there, living, present in all their productions, like the artist who puts in his work the diehards of his being.
Iseult Labote : The disturbance power of photography
Françoise-Hélène Brou, art historian, 1999