Article Number: 217
Hard Cover, English, Thread Stitching, 94 Pages, 1997, Divus
Pierre Daguin

The Nude

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This book of photography by French artist Daguin contains a selection of intimately documented acts. Simona Vladíková writes: "Pierre Daguin lets his sight naturally wash up a stream of images of girls, friends, private places, showcases, girls’ wombs, and portraits…. The black and white photography, including that which is said to be ‘low quality,’ is a raw record of moments of convergence of contextual flux." Designed by Markéta Othová, the book has a hard binding and cover.

Not everyone has the courage to venture into the amorphous regions of his own emotional life, for it is a journey into the unknown which one must make at his own risk and without any guide to take him along. The makeshift rope used to rappel down the dark tunnel is tricky. The wild places inside where we are headed usually remain obscure, hidden by a thicket of rational, externally acceptable fronts. The composed exterior is carefully groomed and kept in isolation. Yet right under the surface of a seemingly disimpassioned shell we see frothing an argosy of heterogeneous motives, wishes, hatreds, loves, fears and many other indiscriminate emotions. It is a wonder that during the daylight hours of our everyday existence we are so correct and tepid in our behavior, for we have learned to craftily hide the eons of our internal eruptions behind a face of impassiveness. Our neat, “civilized” shells have thickened into a hardened crust and our suns overheat in hermetically sealed depths of the soul, making a confrontation with one‘s own molten inside even more dangerous when the casing breaks.

Pierre Daguin has decided to rip the blindfold off his eyes and let loose his piercing sight. The result is a photographic record of body surfaces, places and situations enabling the viewer to see under the cuticle. The external visible layer thus becomes a transparent film allowing us to see through, gain insight, get under the skin.

Pierre often trains his penetrating look on women, naked women. In his eyes, a woman is here to be penetrated. As unpoetic, harsh and merciless it may seem, this is exactly what one feels looking at his inelegantly expressive, yet gently probing photographs. For the viewer, the commonness, simplicity and directness of Pierre‘s vision characterized by no aesthetizing selection makes the black-and-white pictures a ground for strong emotional projections. Reminiscent of small boys learning to use their first vulgar words, the timidly rude character of the pictures charged with trepidation provide a catchy visual stimulus allowing one to experience his own emotional opening.

Pierre Daguin lets his sight to naturally wash up a stream of images of girls, friends, private places, showcases, girls‘ wombs and portraits. A woman offering her body, acting cool and yet overtaken by emotion at the same time. A girl showing off her nudity as if no longer aware what it means or what it reveals about her, what is happening to her or who she is. And the man? He is only eager to watch. Eyeing the pleasant curves of the shell, he is uninterested in anything that lies hidden under the thin skin of the smooth, young body. While at first we may feel the pictures are but a simple record of an intimate situation, an erotic snapshot, at closer inspection we begin to see, able to peel off the delicate layers of fluttering emotional reflections.

Black-and-white photography, including that which is said to be “low quality”, is a raw record of moments of convergence of contextual flux. A picture is like a lightning arrester, for it brings together a beam of emotional flux lines, channeling them before our eyes onto a single piece of black-and-white paper, offering them to be sampled by our feelings. Pierre does not restrict his vision or exclude anything from his visual field. He does not trim sections of reality in any way, leaving everything which reality offers, be it sockets on the wall, lack of focus of an overall view or a detail, a light bulb hanging from a wire, a figure out of the frame format, a photographic flaw... Captured within an erotic context, all this is a proof of a view and sensibility free of any rationalizing or ethical clichés and rigid dogmatic tenets. Nothing can be flawed, for there are no flaws.

Openness, its various contradicting forms ranging from a much imperfect attempt at opening up to full surrender to another person‘s view, that is the overlying principle diffused in the entire series of Pierre‘s photographs: a gaping cleft of a womb, coy stripping, a relaxed bath dissolving all inhibition, a body huddled in mistrust, an invinting posture with the head thrown back and the arms raised, a mere smile, a direct, penetrating gaze, a half-naked girl‘s body on the floor.

This is the way in which Pierre Daguin‘s photography reconnoiters and captures extreme situations, edgy moments, the limits of relations. This extremity and marginality, however, is extremely difficult to grasp, for it is unostentatious, furtive, sneaky and obscure. To visually capture something as subtle, one must be capable of natural boldness and daring suggestiveness, candid sensitivity to things unspoken and unrevealed, of sympathetic arričre pensée, of soothing the reaches between smile and coldness. Besides, he must be able to record the chilling prickle rising to one‘s heart. It is the ability to feel all this that is needed to produce visual polyonymy of man‘s relation to womanhood as a principle, as a form of vital energy. This approach strips the two poles of human sexuality of the superficiality of mere behavioral patterns, for concentrations on the symbolic meaning of conduct exposes bare the unthought-of dimensions of minute gestures and looks, the hard-to-distinguish expressions twitching in the face.

This series of pictures has no first-plane story links, yet their atmosphere, the repetition of faces leads the viewer on to instinctively establish relations and unwittingly build plots that lack any chronological succession, yet show a fatal timeless bond, ever so strong because it is mysterious.

A great part of Pierre Daguin‘s entire work is concerned with relating to women and represents a testimony to an incursion from the man‘s position in that of the women.
This incursion comes in a variety of forms ranging from collages and felt-tipped pen-drawings of brutal colors to photography representing the more subtler reification of the author‘s attempts at relating to women.

In Pierre‘s black-and-white photography, the incursion is gyratory and zetetic, governed by a desire to come closer to the remote, unknown, mysterious regions of womanhood, fascinating and at the same time irritating to induce impassion. At times, he fights dominantly, at other times he submissively gives in. Entranced by the infinite force of recreation, he attemps to read from his shadowgraphs what in fact comprises the quintessence of the rapturous, separative, all-encompassing energy. Balancing on the edge, Pierre Daguin juggles with a feeling that he is to be engulfed by something inconceivably temperate, yet forcefully strong.
His photography is concerned with seeking a refuge while fearing its depth, darkness, ambiguity and infinity. His pictures spell awe and urge, they constitute an enriching experience.