May 24 - July 13, 2002
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

From the 24th May to 13th July 2002, for the first time Bettina Rheims has exhibited the whole Chambre Close series, realized in 1991, 85 photographs, several of them unedited.

In the manuscript devised by Serge Bramly to go with the series of Bettina Rheims´s photographs, Mr X is a city-dweller whose ordinary and quiet life seesaws secretly the day he decides to let himself be guided by his long term pent-up urges. Pressed on by a sudden and invasive sexual desire, Mr X approaches young women at random during his daily encounters, without any precise aesthetic criteria and guided solely by their sensuality. Passing himself off as a photographer, he has them pose, one by one, in minuscule hotel´s bedrooms against the printed coloured wallpaper, on dubious bed-spreads.

If Mr X feels an ardent desire, an irrepressible attraction for the woman he approaches, the desire is annihilated at the time of the shot. A voyeur becoming photographer, his sexual desire emerges as merely visual appetite, the affair is more visual than carnal . From the initial voyeurism of Mr X., the photographed woman´s exhibitionism follows, this contradicts her modesty and the taboos that oppressed it, frees her to be revealed completely, confessing to the photographer as to a priest.

"I love the flesh. I am a photographer of the skin". This self definition by Bettina Rheims describes the facets of the Chambre Close series, where the artist takes the role of Mr X, in search of the magic and deeply intimate moment when the woman bares herself and unveils the transparency and fineness of her skin.

First of Bettina Rheims´ work in colour, Chambre Close moves against the black and white aestheticism of the previous series maintaining only the vision of reality, in its raw and daring aspect. By using colour and extreme quality printings, the flesh appears living and gives a disconcerting realism to the work. Bettina Rheims thus transcends the body to reach primitive femininity in her psychoanalytical "id" - her more or less pent-up impulses, sexual impulses in particular. At the same time as these impulses show through the surface, the awareness of the model, through her skin, the artist captures them on film.. Just as Mr X entered the clandestine world to appease his lust for the female, Bettina Rheims slipped herself into the skin of this fictional character to give life to the photographs and body to this obsessive approach to nakedness that inspires it all.

"Chambre Close is as much about the nude as about the hotel room. The banal, the impersonal, the erasing of all signs of relevance, is the normal state of this kind of place." Creating a quite exceptional situation thanks to the ephemeral nature of the place and of the instant, the setting in which Bettina Rheims immerses her model is perfectly mastered, as much with regard to the decor as with getting the confidence of the model. Chambre Close is a series on banality: banality of fantasy, of the model and of place. the originality of Bettina Rheims is to remove from the photograph its frozen character and to provide onlookers through these unique moments of life, with a new vision of the world that surrounds them. The models chosen are women we meet every day and their attitude makes us become aware of a hitherto unsuspected reality.

"I wanted to play with desires and fantasies, to work on seduction, what you show or what you don´t show and how far you go. If you acts and appears today, it may be because there isn´t anything more sure than voyeurism."