Thierry Verbeke

Stickers, T.Shirts & V.I.P.s

25 November - 12 December 1999

Thierry Verbeke's first solo exhibition at artconnexion offers, in three parts, a look at the constant back and forth of the image between fiction and reality, between the public thing and the intimate as it is shown in the so-called popular press but also by many other media. Voyeurism, and more or less veiled innuendo, feed the tabloid press but are treated here in a sober but explicit manner.

T-shirts hang on the walls of the corridor bearing a printed photo of a silhouette traced with white chalk on the floor of a tunnel or an underground passage; the immediate conclusion is that something bloody happened here... In the next space, taped to the wall, blurred photos, as if taken with a telephoto lens, seem to have captured the silhouettes of what are known as "stars", if not "personalities". The whole thing may evoke a Déjeuner sur l'herbe shot by paparazzi and processed in the laboratory, with milky grain.

In an opposite corner, a computer continuously edits small self-adhesive photos, portraits of models posing for fashion photos whose faces had been pixelated and were offered, with the help of an "appropriate caption", for "public vindication". The size of these "stickers", which could be edited at home using the artconnexion website, meant that they could be stuck anywhere, but especially out of place. The artist suggests that the photos of the "stickers" that the amateur sticker artist has put in place according to his or her mood and humour be sent to the site.

This trilogy (crime scenes, suspects, culprits), which stuck so closely to media reality-fiction, created a feeling of unease that was quickly dispelled by the playfulness of the more rudimentary manipulation of the Internet. It also invited us to reflect on the status of the image, particularly intimate images, and their distribution and reception in the public domain.