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The Path of Photography

Catherine Balet

From the “Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden Shoes” Series
with Ricardo Martinez Paz

This series is a collaboration between a photographer intrigued by the evolution of photography and her friend Ricardo, who became both her muse and her model. Begun in July 2013 at the Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival as a joyful celebration of the photographers exhibited that year, it quickly developed into a deeper, more challenging project.

Balet became profoundly interested  in what it is that gives a photograph its iconic status, particularly in today’s frenetic communications world in which vast flows of images are consumed. It is obvious that photography has undergone dramatic changes in its technical and cultural approach. With the creative image processing applications the “decisive moment” doesn’t have much sense anymore. Everyone is a photographer and there are lots of new players and new ways of playing. Fascinated by the way in which the Internet has both decontextualized images and has diminished our ability to pay attention to what we view online, Balet began to closely investigate the images that have built the foundations of our photographic visual culture. She scrutinized these images that have been shaping our perception of the world as the medium of our collective memory and have created a historical, vernacular and speculative legacy. With her chameleon friend Ricardo, Balet revisits landmark photographs in a way that not only respects the original authors but also searches for the essence of photography. The task is also to translate the beauty of the grain and to discover what is essential in the original print.

Through the work Balet questions the dematerialisation of the photograph as well as the nature of authorship in the process of re-creation. The original photos she studies have been all found online and to create her images she explores the vast repertoire of advanced image processing technologies in a way that questions the medium itself. Balet’s interpretation, created sometimes decades after the original, highlights how every picture has a malleable history and accumulates different meanings over time and in different contexts.

Starting with a 1839 self-portrait the series seeks to make sense of the 21st century’s photographic landscape by both examining its past and by also identifying some of the latest photographic trends.

Ricardo’s golden shoes walk from one world to another tracing a considered and thoughtful route through 176 years of photographic history to create a subjective overview of an imaginary museum.

Catherine Balet, A Homage to Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Multiple self-portrait in mirrors, 1915 -1917), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes
Catherine Balet, A Homage to Robert Mapplethorpe (Ken Moody and Robert Sherman 1984), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes
Catherine Balet, A Homage to Natalia LL (Consumer Art, 1972), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes
Catherine Balet, A Homage to Edward Muybridge (Man ascending stairs,
1887), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes
Catherine Balet, A Homage to Robert Capa (Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes
Catherine Balet, A Homage to Robert Doisneau (Picasso
and the loaves, 1952), from the series Looking for the Masters in Ricardo’s Golden shoes