Pascal Convert. At Bâmiyân. 14 October 19 November Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris

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1 Pascal Convert At Bâmiyân 14 October 19 November 2017 Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris Be they photographs, films or sculptures, Pascal Convert s latest works are all informed by absence, an absence which resists and which cannot be erased, an absence which is there in front of us, amazingly precise. It is so easy to demolish a body. So hard to erase a hole, observes the philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman in Antres-Temps, a co-authored artist s book published for this exhibition. Bringer of Light As it welcomes the visitor, the white-enamelled ceramic sculpture of the artist s son continues the cycle of the Portrait of a Young Man as St. Denis, started in 2016 in the same place. Challenging fanatics and iconoclasts, after being beheaded, a saint carrying his own head rises up, takes his head in his hands, and sets out for the place where he wants to be buried. In some legends, his head is lit up by night. He is called a bringer of light. This motionless silhouette carries its head like a present, its face is calm, almost smiling, and seems to be defying the disorder of the world. This is the same gaze, at a human level, endowed with a dignity from another time, that we find in the film The Children of Bâmiyân. They were born at the foot of the cliff in age-old caves of Buddhist monks turned into dwellings. They are descendants of the soldiers of Genghis Khan, and part of the Hazâra people. Today, looked down on and reduced to slavery by other ethnic groups, the Hazâra still suffer regular discrimination. When the camera snaps them, childish laughter gives way to silence. Being-there in a landscape, in a gigantic living fossil. 1 At Bâmiyân, people love one another and die endlessly before the eyes of the cliff. 1 Losing memories The giant sculpted Buddhas of Bâmiyân owe their fame above all to their destruction by the Taliban on 11 March 2001, in the wake of an edict condemning idols promulgated by Mullah Omar, who had been controlling Afghanistan since At the time, the western world had not completely acknowledged the scale of that event, which was nevertheless part of a time sequence which duly led to the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, exactly six months later, on 11 September The destruction of the two giant Buddhas at Bâmiyân and of the Twin Towers in New York accelerated our entry into the 21 st century and taught us that the comeback of cultural, economic and above all religious conflicts would go hand-in-hand with a toxic use of the power of imagery. The primary goal of the cultural purification undertaken by Islamist extremists is nothing other than literally making us lose our memory. And with it our consciousness. Battered memories Located in the middle of Afghanistan, Bâmiyân is a small town spreading from east to west along a south-facing cliff. Between the 3 rd and 7 th centuries, this cliff, made of a brittle rock, and about one mile in length, housed a Buddhist monastery with a population of more than 1,000 monks. The site was major evidence of the Graeco- Buddhist school of art of the Gandhara kingdom. In the cliff, inside huge niches, stood two colossal statues of Buddha upright, one 38 metres/125 feet to the east, the other 55 meters/180 feet to the west. In addition to those niches, 750 grottoes had been hewn out, 75 of them containing mural paintings and clay sculptures, which can be described as sanctuary grottoes. The destruction (or theft) of sculptures, paintings and sculpted bas-reliefs was systematic. 1 in Antres-Temps (Ritournelle de Bâmiyân), Georges Didi-Huberman. Galerie Eric Dupont, 138 rue du Temple, Paris T dupont.com dupont.com

2 But memories all the same If the Taliban thought they had destroyed those giant statues, just like Hiroshima after the explosion of the atomic bomb, the shadow cast by them lives on. Destroying a sculpture is not just breaking stones, as Mullah Omar claimed, it is a denial of every human being s possibility of depicting a living being. The zeal with which jihadists in Syria and Iraq destroy pre-islamic sculptures is, of course, part of a propaganda program. It also attests to an absolute desire to destroy everything that has to do with the past, and all of history. But the explosion of hundreds of mines was unable to totally destroy the existence of those Buddhas, their pain is frozen in the stone and the holes which pepper the cliff are like so many open mouths bearing witness. Memories by contact During his stay in Bâmiyân, in addition to a 3D scan of the site using drones with the help of ICONEM, Pascal Convert used an ordinary photographic technology adopted for detecting micro-cracks in wind turbine blades. This technology made it possible to produce a 1:1 image of the cliff using a system tiling thousands of photographs. In a dialectical way, combining the most contemporary of technologies with the most ancient, he decided to produce a photographic print of the whole cliff using the platinum-palladium procedure, a contact printing technique invented in The viewer thus has the feeling of being in front of a photographic object whose visual and tactile qualities are those of a direct print. The light of the Bâmiyân cliff is to be found somewhere in the cotton paper fibers. Galerie Eric Dupont, 138 rue du Temple, Paris T dupont.com dupont.com

3 PASCAL CONVERT AT BÂMIYÂN, 2017 SELECTED PRESS REVIEW Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris Galerie Eric Dupont, 138 rue du Temple, Paris T dupont.com dupont.com

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12 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ Galerie Eric Dupont, 138 rue du Temple, Paris T dupont.com dupont.com

13 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ GalerieEricDupont,138rueduTemple,75003ParisT www.eric

14 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ GalerieEricDupont,138rueduTemple,75003ParisT www.eric

15 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ GalerieEricDupont,138rueduTemple,75003ParisT www.eric

16 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ GalerieEricDupont,138rueduTemple,75003ParisT www.eric

17 site bouddhas bamiyan reprend vie paris/ GalerieEricDupont,138rueduTemple,75003ParisT www.eric

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