Joseph Dadoune made a name for himself in the West and in the Middle East in the early 2000s thanks to remarkable video installations and an original photographic work. On the occasion of a solo exhibition (Khamsin Photography, 2007) at the Böhm Trade Center in Düsseldorf, he declared: “Today I tend to think that the filmed image is the most appropriate semantics, and that cinema makes it possible to talk about a subject by concentrating its multiple aspects […] The installation, through its format (montage, real-life scenes, device) also raises the question of how to pose a camera in the face of these lived things while putting pathos or sentimentalism at a distance. If my aim is to use documents as a starting point, I do not wish to make a documentary work. …] I don’t try to create a fiction from reality. Rather, I seek to open doors to make connections possible. »
Joseph Dadoune’s work has never ceased to question Judaism, post-colonialism, the periphery and homosexuality. His films and photographs shed light on these archaic symbolic violences.
For any creator – with a sense of history – a question is always asked: what stone should be added? For Dadoune, it would rather be: what image to add to the images already there? Alain Badiou is said to have spoken of new fictions.
Like Ad Reinhardt, Joseph Dadoune has decided to bury the image, without however making a clean sweep of the figure, of the sign. Reinhardt liked to consider his Black Paintings as “a free, unmanipulable, useless, unsaleable, irreducible, unphotographable, unreproducible, inexplicable icon. “Joseph Dadoune’s Black Boxes are in their own way part of the modernist logic of Reinhardt’s Ultimate Paintings. These works, as dry, hermetic and closed as they may be – to use the artist’s words – nevertheless echo very tangible realities. Counter Composition V (2011) evokes a vulva as much as the eponymous work by Theo van Doesburg (1924), which earned him a presentation by Galerie Le Minotaure last October at the Fiac, alongside works by Hans Bellmer, Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Man Ray and Pierre Molinier. Contemporary history is never far away, Black Tunnel (2013) symbolizes one of the underground galleries built by the Palestinians to transport food between Gaza and Egypt. Palm Box reverses the Epinal fifties imagery of the resort. As for Black Museum (2011), in the face of which, a champion of relational aesthetics could fantasize about multiple collective fictions, we prefer to take the time to question the future lives of the White Cube. What is behind the White Cube? What symbolic violence? What ideology? What utopia seals the Black Museum? Brian O’Doherty’s essays then appear to be highly topical and necessary (see “Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space” in Artforum, 1976).
These photographs, conceived in a studio with windows without frames or shutters – like eyes without eyelids – open to the outside, in permanent connection with the street, neighbors, passers-by, life, necessarily refer to an exteriority, to an Other. Each photograph attempts to answer the questions that run through this ensemble: what happens beyond the image? Behind the image? Behind the black box?
Just like the artist’s studio, these photographs are not closed works, on the contrary, they impose neither an authoritarian point of view nor a doxa. They are open works in the sense that Umberto Eco meant.