Dimensions: 28.4 x 22.7 x 3.1 cm
Steidl’s 2009 publication Valérie Belin was produced as an accompaniment to Belin’s self-titled retrospective exhibition, the first comprehensive survey of the work produced by the French artist over the previous seventeen years. Consisting of several series, most of which were shot in a high contrasting black and white with only a few later works shot in colour, Belin’s focus is on the portrait and still life. Despite the differences in literal subject matter, it is clear that Belin’s interest lies in the relationship between nature and culture; references to pop culture icons and consumer products feature often, their appearance voicing Belin’s comments on how much media and pop culture, so grandly paraded, are effecting its audience, particularly young adults, and her want to understand it.
It is clear to see in this collection of work Belin’s creative decision to maintain a uniform way of photographing, this confrontation making the viewer almost too acutely aware of the spectacular and austere qualities her subjects possess. This sense of eerie uncertainty is addressed in the publication’s introduction, written by Els Barents, William A. Ewing and Jean-Luc Monterosso, as it remarks that Belin’s photographs are places in which ‘real life and virtual life seem able to interrelate on a similar level without any interference’, echoing that initial interest in popular culture and its effects on the very real lives, personalities and appearance of her subjects.
Vaélrie Bélin depicts a brilliant retrospective of an evocative photographer and sees Belin herself turning her subjects into icons and investigating social environments and its effects on those who reside within them through a medium that offers the truest representation it can yet retains a hauntingly prevalent element of uncanny.