# PHOTOGRAPHY /// Silent Light (Culture) by Matthieu Kavyrchine

Matthieu Kavyrchine is a young French artist with an architecture background who released several interesting photographic series including one called Habiter that introduces himself living a whole week alone in the Villa Savoye intepreting the Corbusean space as a kind of hostile territory…
The work that I chose here is a series called Culture that would be exhibited starting March 7th in the Parc Culturel de Rentilly near Paris. The photographs dramatizes a frightening forest occupying the stage of a theater if it is not a theater’s bleachers lost in the middle of a forest. The fictitious space introduced makes me think of a representation of Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot in a scenario in which Godot would have actually arrived ! In his information note, Matthieu Kavyrchine evokes the representation of childish fears that makes me recall the epileptic forest dramatized by Berdaguer & Pejus (see former post). 

Here is a short text introducing the Exhibition Silent Light:

A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville and of Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Matthieu Kavyrchine is interested in showing in his artwork the relationship between mental space and constructed space. For the project Habiter (2003), the artist spent several nights alone in the Villa Savoye.1 In the resulting photo self-portraits, the iconic architectural space, so often treated as a mere museum piece and stripped of presence, ends up blending into the mental space, becoming a shell.
We find this idea transposed to a completely different world in the project Culture, designed at the CPIF (January–March 2008), in which skillful photomontage combines the natural space of the forest with that of the stage. The theater becomes a metaphor for mental space: a physical and enclosed site, it opens possibilities for the imagination. Yet the forest, the archetypal open space, tends at night to become closed off, to transform into a cocoon in which one can come to curl up.
From the dark halls of the forest at night, a hybrid space is set up. As with John Cage’s silent room2, a dimension of silence becomes visible in Matthieu Kavyrchine’s images: a bed of ferns, a carpet of leaves or lichen, a circular halo of protective light are reminiscent of a cocoon. They offset the phantasmagoric and murkier universe of the pitch black associated with childhood fears.
In these scenes stripped of human presence, the position of the image’s viewer is equivalent to the point of view of the invisible audience (from his purple armchair the viewer observes a dead tree) or to the point of view of the actor (the tree onstage faces several rows of red seats). Through this infinite regression, the empty orchestra seats open the possibility of identifying with the viewer of the image.
In the series D104, which followed Culture, a choreographer is pitted against the space of the forest by introducing an element that is natural, certainly, but cultivated (potted plants). These frontal tableaux recall the landscapes of Corot more than they do the scenery of Waiting for Godot. By introducing human presence in which the subject attempts to become a part of the natural landscape, the mental space evolves from projection to embodiment.
Audrey Illouz, Centre Photographique d’Ile de France, 2008
1 Architectural project designed by Le Corbusier.
2 “Silence does not exist. Go into an anechoic chamber and listen to the sound of your nervous system and listen to the

circulation your blood.” John Cage, Silence (Wesleyan University Press).

Share This: