Etienne Conte: To see is to marvel
By Ellen Turner Hall
Etienne Conte’s exhibition at La Maison de la Catalanité is entitled « Poésie de Contrebande » perhaps eluding to his practice of smuggling images from the edge of experience. Conte’s photographs are the fruit of chance encounters, objects glimpsed in a particular light from a singular perspective.
Many of the photographs have an almost textural feel, contrasting soft and rough, as in the spotlit red velour chair set at an angle before rough stone steps and a nocturnal scene of corrugated cargo boxes stacked against the black bands of the sky and dock.
Conte is not without a sense of humour. Look for the three little pigs squeezed between mountains of precariously stacked books and a big-eyed stuffed animal staring out at raindrops gliding down a windscreen.
My particular favourites are two black and white portraits of hands hung side by side. One captures a hand posed above a delicate line that cuts the land and seascape in two. The other one shows a hand resting on a solid black object that masks the bottom half of the photo. Who do they belong to? What are they doing? Why are they there?
To discover: “Poésie de Contrabande” from 22 May to 23 June 2023 at the Maison de la Catalanité, Perpignan, Monday to Friday, 9 to 12 and 1230 to 17.