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A nostalgic array of works by French artist Laurent Montaron are currently on display at the Center of Contemporary Art (CCA) in Tel Aviv until September 1. In his exhibition “Replica,” the interdisciplinary artist explores the dichotomies between various media and emerging technology. The show features a series of existing works in addition to a new, tailor-made commissions, marking his first solo exhibition in Israel.
Montaron utilizes film, photography, and installation to examine representations of reality. More specifically, he demonstrates how different media effectively obscure the line demarcating fact from visual perception. Among the artist’s existing works is Train de cerfs-volants Saconney. The 2016 installation features a collection of kites used for aerial photography during World War I. The work’s name comes from WWI Army General Jacques-Théodore Saconney, who was at the forefront of kite aerial photography.
Keeping in line with several other of Montaron’s works on view, it draws attention to contemporary debates on surveillance, privacy, and even modern-day spy wars. Montaron’s pieces are layered with metaphors, ultimately serving as reminders that even the camera is not always an objective tool to capture reality.
The Chief Director of the CCA and curator of the exhibition, Nicola Trezzi, explains that a fundamental principle of Montaron’s work lies in forming a relationship between the medium and the subject. “A good way to define his work is through the word film, which is versatile. He’s somebody who’s interested in the connection between photography and the material.”
While Montaron is known for his work on film, Trezzi points out it’s not his sole focus. “He’s somebody working with video, but not exclusively,” Trezzi noted. This becomes particularly relevant in another one of his existing works on display, SAL (2018). The site-specific corner piece features salt from the Dead Sea.
The exhibition features two new pieces specifically conceived for the CCA. The unnamed works are displayed through a slide projector, in which the visual fades as the viewer approaches the image.
In “Replica,” Montaron brilliantly draws on the power of innovation, transcending boundaries and shining light on new ways of understanding the world. For Montaron, while new technologies may have allowed us to perceive the world differently, they haven’t necessarily brought us closer to the truth. However, experimentation has given humanity another means to explore how we think through tools and objects.