On the other side of the mirror
“Sans titre (97070804)” is from the “Venise (Miroir)” / “Venice (Mirror)” series, produced in 1997, where the property of reflection and the transparency of Murano glass make the Venetian mirror a pure evocation of light. This piece, acquired by the Societe Generale Collection in 2007, is a quintessential example of the work of photographer Valérie Belin, whose latest series, "Reflection", is currently on display at the V&A Photography Centre in London.
Between matter and light
“More than the representation of a mirror, it is a photo of its light spectrum.”
This is how Valérie Belin presents Miroirs (Mirrors). These Venetian mirrors which reflect no one can only reflect themselves, creating an impression of infinity and absurdity in which we may find the spirit of baroque vanities. That which is human, shines through its absence.
In fact, Venise is the last series the photographer worked on, before embarking on projects dedicated to the human figure. Preceded by a study on crystals and silverware, it is emblematic of her approach to light, matter and their intrinsic qualities. Born in 1964 in Boulogne-Billancourt, Valérie Belin studied at the Beaux-Arts in Versailles and at the École nationale supérieure d’art in Bourges, then deepened her research in art philosophy at the Sorbonne. Even during her early years, it was photography that caught her attention: influenced by the minimalism of Robert Morris or Robert Ryman and by conceptual art, she envisioned it both as a medium and as a subject.
Works that are varied but coherent
In barely thirty years and through no less than forty-five series, Valérie Belin has created a fascinating body of work which has been exhibited around the world, and won her numerous awards, including the Pictet Prize in 2015. Although she is unafraid to tackle a broad spectrum of subjects (Voitures / Cars, 2018; Robes / Dresses, 1996; Mariées marocaines / Moroccan Brides, 2000; Bodybuilders I & II, 1999), the coherence of her work remains striking: the shots are frontal, the framing tight, excluding any decorative element or context, and with a format that is frequently monumental in scale.
More than twenty years after Venise, the question of the reflection and abstraction of light is still at the centre of Valérie Belin’s work. Her most recent series, entitled Reflection and produced for the Victoria and Albert Museum, transforms her studies on windows by piercing them with abstract light...