In Arles, at the Atelier de la Mécanique, south of the city, visitors come and go between the rails in the shade of the sun. In this large and beautiful exhibition space, the Huawei Gallery has taken up its quarters. And offers “Champ / Contrechamp” a touching, original exhibition that redefines the relationship between the photographer and his model.
The space is minimalist, white, uncluttered. On the left, a series of portraits is hung along a picture rail and one does not suspect, at first, that it is incomplete. Seven faces face the visitors. Their eyes plunge into ours, at the height of a man. These black and white images are signed Billy Kidd. The 37-year-old New York photographer, accustomed to podiums and studios, is now ambassador for Huawei who inaugurated this gallery on July 5th. Thus, all the portraits of this exhibition Champ / Contrechamp were realized with a P10 Plus, last jewel of the mark.
The result is as simple as it is intriguing. The seven unknowns photographed by Billy Kidd in New York pose in front of a white background. Their faces are captured in black and white and, as often in the artist’s images, the color is in the depths of the glances it highlights. So that one is irremediably attracted by these funny, benevolent, unknown and offered faces. For the notion of offering is very important here. A real connection is created between the visitor and the works. We forget ourselves and do not notice the markings on the ground, nor the phones hanging above each portrait.
When the viewer becomes a model
That is precisely the aim. Because while the visitor focuses on an image, it is taken in photograph. Behind him, a whole computer and photographic system was made available to Billy Kidd. On two screens, he can observe the people who linger in front of his images, thanks to a software connected to the P10 that had not been noticed … And if an expression, a face pleases him, it triggers remotely . In one day there are a hundred images that are made with the “Portrait” mode of the P10 and then sorted to determine which one will be added next to the original portrait where it was taken. A new portrait is hung every day, throughout the opening week of the Rencontres d’Arles.
A happy dichotomy takes place through this ingenious exhibition which brings together diptychs of unknown persons. A challenge that was not easy for a photographer who is in the habit of coping with professional models, under well-prepared shooting conditions. Unconsciously or not, visitors will give him something. His challenge: keep an eye open to seize these few seconds of abandonment. Champ / Contrechamp completely redefines the relationship between the photographer and his model, in the sense that neither one nor the other can really control the image that will be born. The concept of exhibition is also bold. For Vincent Vantilcke, marketing director of Huawei France, “a profound change is taking place in photography”. This manifestation is the happy evidence.
Images par © Billy Kidd