Contemporary French photographer Valérie Belin always works
in black and white and although her work has ranged across a wide
variety of subjects including crashed cars, Moroccan brides and
body builders, she has been continuously engaged in exploring the
possibilities and nature of photography. In particular, she demonstrates
an interest in surface and the way that light hits surfaces. Her
earliest work was a study of light itself – photographs of
light sources including the sun. Until the last five years the body
was absent from her work – as in this series.
The mirrors were photographed in situ in shops on the island of
Murano in the Venice lagoon, an area that has been famous for its
glass production since the 1200s, and particularly for the beauty
and luminosity of its mirrors (at the beginning of the 16th century,
a Venetian mirror in an elaborate silver frame was valued at £8,000,
nearly three times the contemporary price of a painting by Raphael).
The viewer is presented with an over-abundance of reflections of
mirrors, ending in an impenetrable and annihilating blackness, a
nothingness in which the photographer is not present.
Of Belin's work, critic Pierre Wat has written that she 'uses photography
against the deceptive prettiness of the world. Taking photographs
in order to denounce appearances, to reveal the chaos that teems
under each thing'.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010