For more than forty years now, the work of Jean-Luc Mylayne (b. 1946) focuses on the encounter with birds, their fleeting presence captured by the camera. The bird in its natural habitat is Mylayne’s distinctive subject, serving not only as actor but also as conceptual partner on equal terms. The exhibition presents an ensemble of about forty works created between 1979 and 2008.
Together with Mylène Mylayne, his wife, collaborator and namesake, the photographer travelled through rural France and the American Southwest and has created an artistic oeuvre that is as radical as it is poetic. Mylayne’s photographs are a far cry from anecdotal snapshots and do not conform to the perspectives of ornithological studies or classic nature photography. They are the results of months, sometimes even years of preparation and focus on the one particular bird as an individual. In the period of time indicated in a work’s title, the artist has explored the surrounding area, observed the selected animal and slowly gaining its trust. This trust is a fundamental prerequisite for a relationship between the photographer and his subject and, by extension, for creating the image.
In the context of contemporary society, Mylayne’s photographic images appear like a eulogy to a vital – albeit fragile – link between humanity and the natural world. And if the bird is omnipresent, it is, above all, so it seems, as a messenger, encouraging us to rethink the prisms through which we see the real world. In an epoch characterised by urgency and immediacy, the oeuvre of Jean-Luc Mylayne invites us, poetically and philosophically, to hone our sensitivity to another temporality.
A joint project with the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the Aargauer Kunsthaus, the Long Museum in Shanghai and the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover.