Then there is still here now: Iseult Labote’s Serie 1492
Iseult Labote’s ever-searching spirit for discovering the marginalized and the many faces of the rural led her to explore the regions of the tobacco cultivation in Thrace in north-east Greece. The analogue photographs of her Serie 1492 were taken on the area’s mountains and in the houses of the Pomaks, as well as in several abandoned factories in Xanthi. These works celebrate the magic of the purely photographic, raising aesthetic inquiries through a journey on social, humanistic, and geographical terrains. An innate play between the material and spiritual worlds becomes apparent, as the stacks of tobacco leaves strongly exhibit the “architectural” and “corporeal” aspect of their formations, acting at the same time as vehicles of spirits that connect the immaterial with the physical, the basic with the sacred. The tobacco leaves seem to transcend their organic nature becoming symbols of human labour and draw the viewer’s attention to this fragmented microcosm of peripheral-lived life.The artist avoids giving her works a specific personal critical viewpoint, blurring the boundaries between interpretation and objective documentation and allowing the weightless poetic silence of the images themselves to take over.
Clear structures contrast with strong colours, time is juxtaposed with space, everyday simplicity mingles with a breath of lyricism, transience co-exists with permanence, but the final overall impression is one of a natural symbiosis between the constituent visible and invisible parts of the photographs. A direct evocation of emotions is caused by the ambivalent atmosphere of a decaying environment with its deserted remnants and at the same time the existence of traces of life within this odd scenery.
Iseult Labote’s photograghs of Serie 1492 are genuine responses to the peculiar and silent beauty of the specific settings and reveal the artist’s distinct artistic aim that is characterized by precise observation, truthfulness, and a respectful attitude towards the tobacco farmers, their work, and surroundings.
b. 1959, Geneva, Switzerland
Greek and Swiss origin, lives and works in Geneva and Berlin. She studied art history and political science at the University of Geneva. Created without any artificial intervention or staged set-up, her analogue photographs show subjects in a timeless context, threatened by “their tragic sense of loss”. The photographs of Iseult Labote are metaphorical experiments of the material and psychic world: each observation, spotting, shooting and photo developing work together creating a new perception that finds no analogy with any similar reproduction of reality. Among her recent exhibitions: Galerie Daniel Varenne, Geneva (2013) • ArtGenève, Simon Studer, Geneva (2012) • Musée Rath, Geneva (2011) • Simon Studer Art, Geneva (2011) • Y&DC Gallery, Geneva (2010) • Gallery Fletcher, Shanghai (2008) • Artissima, Turin (2006) • CalartActual, Segovia, Spain (2006) • Luxardo Gallery, Rome (2006) • Galerie Schlassgoart, Arcelor Group, Luxembourg (2005) • Musée Olympique, Lausanne (2004) • 2nd International Human Rights Film Festival – FIFDH, Geneva (2004) • Galerie Yiayiannos, Athens (2004). Her works are included in private and public collections, among them: Fonds Cantonal d’ Art Contemporain (FCAC), Geneva • [MAMCO] Musée d’ Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva • Centre d’ Art Contemporain, Geneva • Banque Darier • J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, Athens • The National Bank of Greece, Athens.