(The nostalgy of the object)
Over the last decade, Jean Letellier has been working on LE RIEN, a photographic diary dedicated to a persistent exploration of the most intimate traces of “nothingness”. In his pictures, Letellier follows the tracks of an insignificant and anodyne everydayness which lies abandoned within our reach like a silent vestige of colourful memories that endure with the passage of time.
According to Blaise Pascal,man is“a middle point between all and nothing”.
Letellier’s mute and discouraging albeit deeply human scenes provide a testimony of our passage through the Earth. They mirror our illusions, disappointments and deformities. They form the fence of a territory where nature takes on the form of an anti-natural creation, and where the artificial mimics the physical world. Whereas the five elements of nature —earth, water, fire, wind, and space—are forged according to our liking, our constructions are involuntarily impregnated by their perennial forms and rhythms.
Letellier does not only point out mundane realities that go unnoticed, but also returns to them all the attention they deserve. On every abandoned object he appreciates a certain beauty, a sufficient reason to save the planet, in the eyes of many. Encountering beauty beyond conventions awakens within us the awareness of the precious gift called “Earth” that we hold in our hands. However, from another point of view, contemplating all this material waste reveals the extent up to which the human being abuses its own habitat in a voluntary or involuntary way. Under Letellier’s spell, the debris acquires the aura of a relic—it emerges out of dust like a precious toy attached to the arms of a child. But, at the same time, it turns it into a premonitory sign of a prolonged and exhausting deaththat could be both ours and the planet’s. Entangled between childhood nostalgia and the announced decline of a future that right now does not seem to be too remote, such a reading prompts a bittersweet and hopeless response.
Perhaps LE RIEN is nothing but the latent daydreams of a lover of light. The photographs featured here are frozen time capsules, abruptly developed by the glimpses of an illuminating source that makes them tangible, real, impactful. The moment in which the scene reaches to unearth something deeply buried in the viewer’s gaze, the photographer will have reached his goal.
Exhibition curated by Natasha Christia and organized within the program of REVELA-T 2019 festival,
Jean Letellier(París, 1971). In 1994, after his graduation from Parsons School of NYC, he returns to Paris where he starts to experiment with different media, such as graphic design, collage, mixed media, and B&W photography. Soon photography turns into his unique tool. His projects are orchestrated as inventories of his daily reality and environment. Impregnated by nostalgia and melancholy, his subtle gaze registers minor stories and anodyne objects. He defines himself as a “one-camera and one-lens photographer”. He has participated in various groups shows and photography fairs in Paris, and has self-published the following photobooks: White Book(2014), Series Books 1&2 (2015), andDialogues (2015). In 2017, he touches base in Barcelona where he co-founds with Xènia Gasull, MECÀNIC, a space dedicated to photography.