Le Salon   















SALON ROUGE by Heinrich Obst & Patrick Morarescu
Nov 21st 2015 at Buktapaktop, Brussels

(Portrait session at the Salon Rouge, Buktapaktop Brussels)

The original point of departure was a misfired proposal for the symposium photography performing humor which had been postponed due to a deep red terror alert in Europe’s Capital… having a background in all the aforementioned, Patrick Morarescu and I thought we might do a small investigative studio at Buktapaktop in Brussels in advance of said symposium… we even got friends to fly in from Switzerland and Germany for what ended up being a bit of Belgian shut- & lockdown tourism…

We had prepared some ludicrous questions based on Barthes’ Camera Lucida, also referring to the affective turn mentioned in the symposium’s open call, as well as various investigations into the Augenblick (blink-of-eye-moment) by such as Karl-Heinz Bohrer (Ästhetische Negativität) and Vilém Flusser (Bildmischung) and our own hare-brained ideas concerning the subject, object, ocular operator…

Luck would have it that the run-up to our slapstick operation would be marred by the terror attacks in Paris, reminding us, as Charlie Hebdo did - that being funny can cost you dear… and the consequent raids on local and presumed jihadi-cells in Molenbeek - but is it a reason to stop? No! So rather than postponing, as many culture-vultures did, we decided to go ahead and wing it. The small impromptu studio was based on primitive historic models, using plain daylight and diffusion through drapes & curtains, towards evening traditional incandescent lights, some props and attitudes… or as one sitter said, reminiscent of nomadic studios as one still finds in far-flung places and which used to wander about our itinerant fairground circuits…

Perhaps because of the lockdown a few of the sitters opted for the new fashion of covering your face, everybody beginning to hide behind veils and headdress, balaclava’s and bataclans… running around with pixilated faces – except those who are about to detonate themselves… a different kind of blow-up than we considered in the 60’s… Yes, even the kids (we had a birthday party visiting) decided democratically not to participate for fear of having themselves displayed on facelook or other unsavory social media… now that imagery has become so free-for-all (everyone pays), noone wants it any more…

(one of P.M.’s projects is PERFORMING GROUNDS in which no humans figure but which speaks of human activity and intervention in the landscape and architecture of our public space – maybe that will be all we can document in the future… without permission: nobody wants to be on candid camera anymore for fear of punctuated targeting).

After a careful start the studio warmed up with the presence of friends, passers-by and curious voyeurs, producing a series of discreet portraits in a predominantly blood-red environment… (P.M. had even brought along a red curtain from the once notorious Club2… how apt.) Originally we had prepared a few notions on photography, portraiture, performance and humor on index cards for the sitters to use as preparatory inspiration… but most were quite creatively capable enough without prosthetics, thank you, and even an improvised headstand did not see service…

The second part of the operation was curtailed somewhat by the fact there was no longer a need for a preparatory discussion for the upcoming symposium, and essentially boiled down to a short (presumably comic) performative send-off of the proceedings by an improvised samurai based on the index cards, some shaving based on Shen Zhou, On growing a Beard (ca.1500) and a short presentation of the photographs taken, after which socializing and banter rounded off the evening, making for a cozy steamy soup kitchen before heading off into the uncertain night.

Heinrich Obst

Size: 17 x 24cm
Extend: 40 pages
Edition: 200 copies
All photos © Patrick Morarescu (except page 6, 36/1 © Andrea Huber)
Text: Heinrich Obst
Quotes and fragments by: Roland Barthes, Patrick Morarescu, Johnny Amore, Heinrich Obst (attempted translations)
Grafic treatment: Thomas Gilke

Published by: V.U. Bureau Gruzemayer / Antwerpen?ISBN 9789081290371

Price: 10€ (+shipping: Germany 1,60€ / World 3,80€)?For orders: jpm@morarescu.de

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