Philémon Vanorlé


10 September 29 October 2020

Production : Institut pour la photographie
Exhibition proposed as part of Lille Capitale Mondiale du Design 


Monumentu is a neologism, a portmanteau word combining the French words ‘monument’ and ‘tu’. ‘Tu’ like the pronoun meaning ‘you’ and ‘tu’ like the past participle of the verb ‘taire’ meaning ‘to keep quiet’. 

Behind this idea of Monumentu, Philemon Vanorlé collects amateur photographs – small post- war analogue prints – of men, women and children posing in public spaces. The particularity of these images lies in the isolated object that these posers choose, celebrating even to the point of straddling or climbing it. It is precisely this object that the artist calls Monumentu. 

The ‘monumentu’ is an everyday object, an anonymous and anonymously recognised monument. It is the chosen monument that ‘tu’ reveals in the time and space of a shot, a monument seen and seen enough to be appreciated, to justify a place of connivance, a shared moment, a pose, a photograph. 

For ‘monumentu’ to happen, the photographer must have carefully framed the shot and, no matter how banal the object, must reveal its stature and sculptural dimension. In front of him or her, the model, through his or her indispensable presence, highlights a relationship of form, scale and use. 

Monumentu reflects appropriations that echo, with the passage of time, public art, scenography and design. Whether the intention of the photographers and the models is conscious or not, the types gathered here show very joyful scenes of life and poses. They give the ‘monumentu’ – this banal photographed object – the sheen of the extraordinary, for a fleeting moment. 

Philémon Vanorlé