|Essay by Erik De Smedt|
One thing does not bother the photographer Marie-Thérèse De Clercq : the realistic (in the sense of ‘recognizable’) feature of her work. “What does it matter to apply a depth of field, if there is not enough depth of feeling ?” By this quote of the American photographer W.E. Smith she presents the heart of her particular relation to her artistic medium.
The camera is not fixed on what may be seen outside, it takes its position on the intersection of an inner and outer world, both continually influencing one another. In the photographer’s shots there is always more than you see. Admittedly, according to the particular medium of photography, the image is based on visible elements; nevertheless it gets loose from its own being identifiable. Outward view turns to inward view. In many cases Marie-Thérèse De Clercq comes close to the fairly provocative views that Vilém Flusser strongly words in his Für eine Philosophie der Fotografie (European Photography, Göttingen 1992): “Objectivity of technical images is an illusion. […] A naïve, non-conceptual, notionless photographing does not exist at all. A photograph is an image of concepts. […] The photographer is in pursuit of unexplored possibilities of the photographic appliances, looking for informative, unlikely pictures that have not been seen before.”
Even when, either within an instant or after a long watching period, you have sometimes detected what the picture deals with, it draws you away from its momentary formulation, which had only a short validation. The picture can not be thoroughly defined, but stirs your fancy, your associations and the human faculty of recognition.
The titles given to the photographs by the photographer herself do not describe or define the work in a univocal way. They are impulses, electroshocks as it were, urging the beholder to implement his or her interpreting capacities. At most they merely mention the subject of the consideration, but the beholder is supposed to complement what is said about that particular subject, and to do that on his own account, inspired and pushed by the power of the shot. No explicit message, but the shoddy edges of the sayable.
Watching the pictures, one is pulled and touched by the subject. The photographer intentionally aims at dark prints with subtle luminosity to evoke some dramatic effect, as a result of which the beholder has a strong feeling of emotional involvement. In contrast with today’s image culture, which believes that anything can be shown and visually presented, Marie-Thérèse De Clercq’s work is particularly quiet, hushful even. Her pictures do show something and do display a set of layers, having to be peeled like an onion to get to the core. However, her intriguing work is situated on the verge of visibility and invisibility.
The themes in Marie-Thérèse De Clercq’s photographs focus on a world somewhere far-off, more remote than the photographer herself may be aware of: on something far greater and far more important that worries her.
Crossing that gaze behind her back, we get the pleasant feeling that we ourselves become the object. It looks as if the subject matter of the pictures wants to convey something to us. Something of the daily struggle of the poor I. Something of the photographer herself. She makes us the subject matter of the photographs, undeniably holding us in her power.
According to texts of Erik De Smedt and Prof. Dr. Johan Swinnen