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Hervé Guibert

Opening: Thursday, May 29, 6–8pm

May 29 – July 25, 2014

A black and white photograph of a television at the left, hosting a pornographic image of an erect penis in a man's mouth. To the right of the TV on a table is a glass lamp. In the foreground are two black shoes propped on the arm of a couch, with 2 legs leading off in the bottom-right corner.

Le film porno, 1987-88, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 12 inches (23.8 x 30.5 cm). Edition 5 of 25.

A black and white photograph of 2 elderly women, taken in a bathroom mirror. There are white tiles in the background, and tops of bottles and cups in the foreground.

Suzanne et Louise, 1979, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 4 3/8 x 6 3/8 inches (11.1 x 16.2 cm); paper size: 7 x 9 1/2 inches (17.8 x 24.1 cm).

A black and white photograph of Guibert's great aunt, who's hair reaches her hips. In the background is an open door to the bathroom, behind her are clothes on a table of sorts. She is in the center of the image.

Les cheveux des Louise, 1978, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 8 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches (21.9 x 14.3 cm); paper size: 11 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches (30.2 x 22.2 cm). Edition 1 of 20.

A black and white photograph of Guibert's great aunt, who is wearing a dark apron over a black blouse. In the background are glass hexagons.

Louise, n.d., vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 8 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches (21.9 x 14.3 cm); paper size: 11 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches (30.2 x 22.2 cm). Edition 1 of 20.

A black and white photograph of a wax figure of Napoleon. He is dressed in his funerary garb, with a light upon his face. The outer extreme of the image is slightly darker.

Napoléon (Musée Grévin), n.d., vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches (14.3 x 21.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 7/8 inches (23.8 x 30.2 cm). Edition 1 of 25.

A black and white photograph of the naked torso of a man on white sheets. His erect penis juts from the bottom-center of the frame, and his ribs are pronounced at the top-center of the frame.

Sans titre, 1979, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (14.6 x 22.2 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 12 inches (23.8 x 30.5 cm). Edition 2 of 25.

A black and white photograph of Eugene in side profile, from his elbow upward to his forehead. His shirt is off and we see his naked chest. At left he is holding a glass half-filled with liquid. The source of light comes from the left; the area behind him in the photograph is black.

Eugène, 1983. Vintage silver gelatin print, 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (14.6 x 22.2 cm). Edition 1 of 25.

A black and white photograph of Christine Guibert. She is dressed and looking at the camera. She is wedged above a grouping of cabinets: to her right are 2 white rectangles, and below her are 2 more sets of cabinets. She is looking at the camera, and has short dark hair.

C à la villa, n.d., vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 3/4 x 8 5/8 inches (14.6 x 21.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 7/8 inches (23.8 x 30.2 cm). Edition 1 of 25.

A black and white photograph of an interior of a home. At the left is an empty frame leaning against a wall. In the mid-ground is an androgynous portrait of a person in a hat in a coat. There is a long shadow cutting through a doorway to the left of the portrait, and a lock to a door to the right.

Emménagement rue du Moulin-vert, 1981, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches (14.3 x 21.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 7/8 inches (23.8 x 30.2 cm). Edition 2 of 25.

A black and white photograph of Gina Lollobrigida standing in an evening gown outside, next to several Roman columns and large plants. The sky is grey.

Gina Lollobrigida, Rome, 1980, vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 1/2 x 8 5/8 inches (14 x 21.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 3/4 inches (23.8 x 29.8 cm paper size). Edition 1 of 25.

A black and white photograph of a man laying on a bed. His face is near the corner closest to the viewer, looking down and reading a book. On the ground is a plastic cup with illegible items in it. The room itself is ancient-looking: stone floor with unfinished wood and iron furniture.

Santa Caterina, 1982. vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 6 x 9 1/8 inches (15.2 x 23.2 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 12 inches (23.8 x 30.5 cm). Edition 2 of 25.

A black and white photograph of Christmas ornaments, laid out upon a surface.

Les boules, 1985. Vintage silver gelatin print. Image size: 5 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches (14.9 x 22.2 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 7/8 inches (23.8 x 30.2 cm). Edition 1 of 25.

A black and white photograph of a painting, where a young boy draped in a white dress, eyes closed, kneels on stone and rests their cheek against a stone wall.

Le martyre de saint Tarcisius, 1990. Vintage silver gelatin print. Image: 5 3/4 x 8 5/8 inches (14.6 x 21.9 cm); paper size: 9 3/8 x 11 3/4 inches (23.8 x 29.8 cm). Edition 2 of 25.

Press Release

Readings at 7pm by Nathanaël, Gregg Bordowitz, and Douglas A. Martin.

Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by French writer and photographer Hervé Guibert (1955-1991). In collaboration with Nightboat Books, the gallery will also host a reading to mark the first English translation, by Nathanaël, of Guibert’s posthumously published journals, The Mausoleum of Lovers. Following a 2011 retrospective at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Callicoon Fine Arts will feature approximately 50 photographs, the largest exposition of the artist’s oeuvre in the United States.

Trying his small Rollei camera for the first time at age 18, a gift from his father that he would continue to use throughout his life, Guibert attempted to shoot a portrait of his mother when he considered her to be at the peak of her beauty. The horror in discovering that the film was loaded incorrectly incited a desire to continue, to recover a loss that presciently mirrored much of his later experiences.

Guibert photographed his great-aunts, parents, lovers, but rarely at home in Paris, and more often as if they were characters in a travel journal. Included in the exhibition are portraits of his long-time dealer Agathe Gaillard and the executor of his estate, Christine Guibert. He also photographed the ever shifting tableau of his writing desk, including manuscript pages, his typewriter, the spare rooms of his apartment, a gorgeous light falling across holiday baubles, in an exploration of the possibilities of photography. Guibert’s photographs also capture close subjects and strangers in such a way that the aura of their relationship, however brief or profound, remains in the image, “like a once familiar object to an amnesiac.”

In contrast to the quiet intimacy of his photographs, Guibert was a media figure in the public dialogue around AIDS, challenging and transforming perspectives on the disease, sexuality and self-representation. Producing hundreds of photographs and some thirty novels in his short 36 years, Guibert’s most noted book, À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie (To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life) (1990), chronicles the quotidian specter of death during the last years of the life of his friend and mentor, Michel Foucault. A correspondent with Roland Barthes and critic for Le Monde, Guibert also added to the critical discourse on photography, and in 1982 published a book on the subject, L’image Fantôme (Ghost Image).

The Mausoleum of Lovers, in its first English translation by Nathanaël, comprises Hervé Guibert’s journals from 1976–1991. Functioning as an atelier, it forecasts the writing of a novel, which does not materialize as such; the journal itself — a mausoleum of lovers — comes to take its place. The sensual exigencies and untempered forms of address in this epistolary work, often compared to Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, use the letter and the photograph in a work that hovers between forms, in anticipation of its own disintegration.

Nightboat Books, a nonprofit organization, seeks to develop audiences for writers whose work resists convention and transcends boundaries, by publishing books rich with poignancy, intelligence and risk. www.nightboat.org

Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 49 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, and around the corner at 124 Forsyth Street, between Delancey and Broome Streets. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 6pm. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street.

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