A Handful of Dust
Élevage de poussière, Man Ray et Marcel Duchamp, 1920, Courtesy Galerie Françoise Paviot
ADAGP, Paris, 2015
Après une tempête de poussière, une femme écrivant dans la poussière, Kansas City, 1935, Photo de presse.
Tempête de poussière au Kansas, terrain stérile,1935. Photographie de presse.
Une empreinte se révèle quand on la saupoudre d’un mélange special. November 7, 1923. Photo de presse.
Robert Burley, Demolition of Buildings 64 and 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, New York, 2007
Courtesy de l’artiste et du Musée Nicéphore Niépce, France
Laure Albin Guillot, Plate II, Brazilin, album Micrographie Décorative, 1931
Double page extraite du livre Fait: Koweit 1991, Éditions Hazan, 1992
John Divola, Vandalism, 1973 - 1974, Courtesy of Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, California
This exhibition is a speculative history of the last century, taking dust as its motif.
This in an exhibition about the life and afterlife of a photograph made in 1920 by Man Ray. Or was it by Marcel Duchamp ? Or perhaps by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp ? The photograph is humble yet enigmatic. It is a document. It is an artwork. It is a document of an artwork. It is realist and abstract. It is a still life and a landscape, a forensic image and a performance.
It is a photograph of dust on the surface of a sheet of glass in Duchamp's New-York studio. This glass would later become Duchamp's great work The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (also known as The Large Glass) 1915-1923.
When it was first published, in October 1922, it was captioned "View from an aeroplane". That same month, T.S. Eliot published the great poem of the modern era, The Waste Land, which contains the line "I will show you fear in a handful of dust".
Between the World Wars, the photograph lived in avant-garde journals, each time presented a little differently.
This was the period in which artists were exploring new angles, new relations of image to language, and the uncertain terrain between the photograph as document and artwork.
In 1964, the photograph was formally titled Dust Breeding, and signed by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. From the it began to haunt contemporary culture. Conceptual artists of the 1960s and 70s were fascinated by its implications. It has often appeared in debates about photography's status as indedex or trace, in exhibitions about abstraction and artists use of impoverished materials, and even in discussions of landscape imagery.
What if that strange photograph, taken so long ago, really does signal the dawn of the modern age, with all its complications ? Can a history be assembled from the perspective of dust ?
‘And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.’ T.S. Eliot
From this beginning the exhibition takes in aerial photography, forensic photography, abstractions of landscapes, ruins, postcards and press photos of the American dust storms, artists’ videos, film clips, documentary photography and site specific works, featuring artists like Man Ray, John Divola, Sophie Ristelhueber, Walker Evans, Mona Kuhn, Aaron Siskind, Gerhard Richter, Xavier Ribas, Nick Waplington, Eva Stenram, Georges Bataille, Jeff Wall, among others. »
Artists in the exhibition
William Allen et Bruce Nauman
Laure Albin Guillot
Charles Henri Ford
Rut Blees Luxembourg
A book to accompany the exhibition is co-published by MACK and LE BAL.
The exhibition takes place as part of LE BAL's fifth anniversary.
In the Press
Curator : David Campany
David Campany and LE BAL are thankful to Mack Books, Carolina Nistch Contemporary Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Flowers Gallery, the Galerie Françoise Paviot, the Galerie Jérôme Poggi, the Gallery Luisotti, Priska Pasquer, the Musée Nicéphore Niepce, the Thomas Dane Gallery, the Wilson Centre for Photography.
With the support of Maison Henriot.