August 4th, 2003 16.26h. Jeremy, Claire and Martine Davi take a walk through the Valée de Chaudefour, Auvergne, France

2003, cibachrome mounted on aluminium, 86 x 112 cm

This work consists of a photograph and a title. The title is installed next to the photograph, so as to be reminiscent of titles of historical paintings in a museum. The work is the result of an action that took place at the indicated time and place: the names of three tourists that were accidentally passing by were recorded, after which Claerbout left the scene until they were out of sight. Only then did he take the actual photograph. The spectator is thus confronted with a splendid view of a magnificent landscape, while its very title functions as a portrait, a snapshot. The main idea behind this work originates from the presupposition that the image depicts what is conveyed in the title: the concept of the photographic “real” is used to record an instance in a given place. The beholder’s attention is completely shifted toward the mere depiction of both the tree in the middle and the panoramic mountain view, as if the landscape itself denies the very existence of the people who once were in it. This striking effect is achieved when the viewer is trying to figure out the meaning of the title, as if it is a secret that does not startle you until you try to tell it.

[Text by Christine Van Assche]

David Claerbout ©2024