From Daedalus to Babel
Virtuoso of photomontage, Philippe Calandre, transforms industrial sites into labyrinthine cities. At the Espace Vallès, he offers a revisiting of the megalomaniac architecture of modern times, a reconsideration of the great myths of ancient architecture.
Tower of Babel, Babylonian astronomical observatory, cyclopean stone walls, Piranesian bridges, the megalithic monument of Stonehenge…The most unreasonable references come to mind in describing the imaginary landscapes of Philippe CALANDRE. Imaginary? Not altogether, because his work utilizes and adds upon photomontage. From views of industrial sites taken by camera the artist creates digital collages on his computer, matching fragments of images and thus recomposing reality at will. He not only makes all human presence disappear, but he multiplies the confusion of hangars, of silos, of chimneys, of beams, of piping, and of flights of stairs, transforming an already complex real into Daedalusian vision and a waking dream. Grandiloquent architectures of vast perspectives, planted in desert spaces, halfway from the prodigious forge of Vulcan and Mount Othrys of the Titans…
“Industrial architecture has no aesthetic constraint, but just the constraints of of productivity, explains Philippe CALANDRE. It has more free forms, but more violent ones, because they are designed with only productivity in mind.” Departing from this postulate, the photographer allows us to discover worlds as grandiose as they are rickety, megalopolises menaced by collapse. The fate dealt to architecture struck with the delirium of power (whether they be Stalinesque, Mussolinian, or achieved by the madness of capitalist grandeur) is that of cathedrals, of pyramids, and of mausoleums: that of ruin. There exists a powerful poetic from the uncultivated world of industry. Philippe CALANDRE engulfs himself in this imaginary world: dusty buildings, corroded walls, tarnished windows, etc. A veritable magic results, but a cold magic. The truly monumental formats of these impressions (tied to the extreme care brought to the construction of the photographic montages) leads the visitor to the exhibition to enter through the ground floor and into the image. One experiences, before the photomontages of Philippe CALANDRE, a true feeling of being crushed. And a vertigo that takes hold.