Jocelyn Philibert, Metamorphosis of the real — Mona Hakim

[Summer 2022]

By Mona Hakim

Metamorphosis of the real
Expression, Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe/Plein sud, centre d’exposition en art actuel à Longueuil/Éditions Loco, 2021, 204 p.

This major monograph on the photographer Jocelyn Philibert covers his production over more than thirty years. We know Philibert for his nocturnal landscapes focusing essentially – one might say obsessively – on the figure of the tree. The landscapes, shot against an ebony background, are captured blindly with a flash after nightfall, and fragments of the digital images are then stitched together and reorganized without the sutures being revealed – whence the sensation of both realism and strangeness that emanates from his photographs. It is hardly surprising that this emblematic figure, captured over and over, occupies a central position in the book, including in landscapes captured during the day from his most recent series, Au jardin des possibles. And we mustn’t forget his sculptures and installations of the 1990s, as he turned to photography in 2006. In their respective essays, Marcel Blouin, Bernard Schütze, and Valérie Litalien conduct in-depth explorations of how these two disciplines interacted in Philibert’s career.

The works in this image-rich book, which both starts and ends with sculpture, are grouped for the most part by photographic series, though not in chronological order. Chronology, in fact, is of little import; after all, taken in darkness, apple trees, willows, firs, and other trees and thickets under overpasses or lining a highway or river seem to belong to a single space-time. It must be mentioned that for a number of years, Philibert has periodically spent time in the rural area around Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, prospecting potential trails during the day for his night-time captures. It is an introspective and risky nocturnal operation – before a subject slips from view under the dazzle produced by repeated use of the flash, before the pieces are later patched together on his monitor. It’s as if he has a constant thirst for attaining amazement, reaching revelation…
Translated by Käthe Roth

[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 120 – FIGURES OF AFFIRMATION ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Jocelyn Philibert, Metamorphosis of the real — Mona Hakim ]