Contributions. Bublex loses interest in the landscapes passed through and in his travelling companions; his focus is instead directed at these new ports installed along the rail rivers: railway stations.
What is this journey that Alain Bublex invites us to embark upon?
Certainly not the journey of Baudelaire’s flâneur, or that of a tourist longing to see the Eiffel Tower. It is a journey to the heart of 21st century urbanity. For this is a unanimous fact: Paris has disappeared — or at least this city conceived as an autonomous and self-sufficient entity has. Today it has given way to a metropolis whose multiple facets spread out according to transport and communications networks. From a ‘metropolitan area’, Paris has become ‘Grand Paris’ (‘Greater Paris’), and must push its historic metro and ring road borders further out so as to unfold the length of the regional express train (RER) and tram tracks.
Taking note of this new physiognomy, Alain Bublex attempts to give a face to a metropolis that is only embodied in plans and maps with coloured and abstract lines. A methodical observer, he casts aside the posture of the explorer adopted by François Maspero in his time (Les passagers du Roissy-Express, 1990). Here it is a question of an experiment, a protocol rigorously developed and applied to the whole Île de France RER network. The design of the network’s lines and the frequency of the trains determine the route and the rhythm of the photographs.
Alain Bublex loses interest in the landscapes passed through and in his travelling companions; his focus is instead directed at these new ports installed along the rail rivers: railway stations. He thus seems to put to the test the desire of town planners to make stations the metropolis’s new central points. His exploration of the outskirts and adjacent streets is not at all a question of compiling an inventory of structures and infrastructures or of taking into account the specificities of places. While proposing a fragmented vision of the urban fabric, Alain Bublex emphasises the connections and interconnections of this territory, so as to remain here in the tracks. No no-places, only commonplaces, places of shared experience, of the everyday, but also places of banality.
An aesthetic of the ordinary that echoes the works of the American photographers of the New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape (1975), but also and especially those of the photographic mission project of the DATAR (Délégation interministérielle à l’Aménagement du Territoire et à l’Attractivité Régionale) in the 1980s. Sent out on the road to represent a French territory lacking an identity, the missionary photographers attempted to give a coherency back to contemporary landscapes. Alain Bublex’s approach is nevertheless different, because the search for coherency is no longer in the image itself, but in the accumulation of photos. A serial form functioning like a dialogue between the plots of a territory that is often considered fragmented. The strategy put into place hence results in a panorama both accurate and surprising: an urban form flush with the surfaces of flux.
Raphaële Bertho, Photography historian
Alain Bublex, Paysage 91 — l’Olympic Dazzleship quittant le port, 2011 C-print and diasec on aluminium — 22 13/16 × 34 in., 3 + 1 E.A. edition Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris
Opening Saturday, October 15 6 PM
Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois
36 rue de Seine - Paris