Valérie Jouve “Formes de vies” at The Saint-Etienne Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
On the occasion of its 30th anniversary the Museum hosts, for her first exhibition in Saint-Etienne, the artist photographer, Valérie Jouve, a native of the region.
Born in Firminy in 1964, Valérie Jouve is exhibiting for the first time in her native region. This event is far from anodyne since the photographer has always insisted on the importance of her Saint-Etienne culture in the issues dealt with by her images. From her beginnings her shots of Marseille suburbs focused on the spaces which manage to combine the urban territory and the landscape qualities of certain cities. She has never taken photos of outer-city zones as enclosed spaces but as places of human sharing, as she had experienced in her native Firminy-Vert neighbourhood.
Throughout the development of her work she has regularly returned to the Saint-Etienne region to discover, reveal and detect the evolution of our society: the so-called disappearance of class, the new white-collar elites, the denial of realities (such as the pastel colouring of urban facades in Saint-Etienne during the 1980’s, for example).
Granted a complete free rein by the Museum for its 30th anniversary, Valérie Jouve could have chosen to espouse a process of scrupulous retrospective and present an exhaustive inventory of her work. However, reviewing in such an artificial manner work carried out over a period of thirty years would not have enhanced the dialogue she wishes to establish with the Saint-Etienne region of today. She has preferred to design a series of unpublished photographic montages, or more precisely, dialogues, which will take their place in her personal portfolio and become part of the exhibition history of a museum which is very conscious of its attachment to the region, its territorial roots. As Valérie Jouve likes to point out, the backbone to her work is not considering her photographs as works of art, definitively fixed in an unchanging temporality, but as favouring the creation of relationships, in resonance, beyond any notion of chronology.
The images of Valérie Jouve, brought together in the exhibition, go beyond any description of reality. While she uses an essentially aesthetic documentary approach, it is always a question for her of restoring the capacity of the image to enrich our imagination, its aptitude to set it in motion, rather than simply the opportunity to see, to read or recognize the subject of the photograph.
The exhibition,”Forms of lives” will certainly refer to the past, with previously unpublished images, taken in Saint-Etienne, but will also prefigure her future work with more contemporary photographs taken in recent years. A montage conceived as an intimate conversation with her region. Her images have no identified origin nor specified places – another characteristic of her approach – and will question our time, our human societies, and our living beings. And, for the first time, certain more autobiographical images will come to divulge fleeting moments in her artistic progression. A prospective dimension will also be present with more recent images, signifying new orientations in her work.
Curator : Martine Dancer-Mourès, general curator in charge of 30th anniversary program
at The Saint-Etienne Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
until 16 September 2018