Aurore Dal Mas’ project Deserts is bathed in a melancholy atmosphere. At FOMU, it consists of a series of washed out photographs – on normal photocopy paper, on aluminium and on high quality photo paper – and a text. On other occasions, there has been a sound element as well as a segment that could be described as an interactive performance: visitors could call a number and listen to a voice tell them a brief story.
We see a lot of male torsos without the heads being visible. They are in all too ordinary settings – rooms in hotels or are they in their own homes? In some, only a part of a room is shown, with an unmade bed or the back of a sofa as witness. All the pictures share a subdued, blurred quality caused by the computer screen but these are no mere screenshots: stains and dust are faithfully rendered. The lifeless palette and a few solitary pixels indicate that these images are not simply recordings.
Some of the models appear to be completely at ease – relaxing on an old sofa, lounging on a bed or even standing – while others are less so. A few of them lie contorted on the floor or are sitting in a corner. There is a sensation of bleakness, as though these images are part of some seedy, voyeuristic sexual exchange via a cam or a hidden camera. The accompanying text is also confusing: it is the poignant story of a flirtation.
Deserts is, in fact, the result of Dal Mas’ online call for young men who would be willing to show their bare chests during a Skype conversation, without obligation and without any reward either. Dal Mas then added equally vague stories to the images she obtained. The artist thus arrived at the evocation of an atmosphere; a distillation of desperate, aching love and lust in the shadows.
This work fits in with the aesthetic that Aurore Dal Mas has been making her own for some time. Her subjects seem unapproachable. She employs various photographic media to try to make the viewer understand the beauty of the wounded – whether it is a landscape, a body or a soul. Technology, either manipulated or spontaneous, allows Dal Mas to obtain a visual language analogous to the scars on the skin of a loved one.