Matthieu Gafsou, Only God Can Judge Me

From June 04, 2014 to August 24, 2014

Winner of the 2009 HSBC Foundation for Photography Prize, and exhibited in reGeneration2 at Musée de l’Elysée the following year, Lausanne photographer Matthieu Gafsou has distinguished himself through his formal and critical approach to the contemporary urban landscape.

Subsequent works, such as Alpes (2008-2012) - a collection of perspectives that question the status of the Alpine landscape, marked by the development of tourism - have confirmed his position in photograpy. More recently, his project Sacré [Sacred] (2011-2012), a kind of ambiguous photographic exploration of the Fribourg Catholic Church, heralded a new direction in his work. The Musée de l’Elysée decided to support the photographer’s personal research by producing and presenting a preview of his new series Only God Can Judge Me.

Inspired by the writings of Antonin Artaud and William T. Vollman, Matthieu Gafsou seeks to «find poetry in the misery of the world». He chose as his subject the Lausanne drug scene, «a tragic form of exoticism next door», and managed to create an original work on an otherwise trivialized subject.

The project assembles several themes tackled through distinct formal registers. Drugs and accessories are reproduced as consumer products, close-up against uniform backgrounds. Photographed against a black background, with carefully applied lighting effects, the portraits of drug addicts are distinguished by their semi-pictorial treatment, inspired by the tradition of portraiture. The places where addicts meet and consume drugs are particularly elaborate, to the point of creating nocturnal landscapes that evoke artificial paradises. And the collection is completed by semi-abstract images, allegories of the ability of drugs to transcend reality. By developing a rich and varied visual language mixing different levels of representation and interpretation, Matthieu Gafsou manages to create a genuine sense experience.

See the video about the exhibition Matthieu Gafsou, Only God Can Judge Me