Stéphane Couturier FR, b. 1957

Over the past twenty-five years, the overlapping of Stéphane Couturier’s physical constructions and their photographic reconstructions has played a crucial role in breaking down the barriers between photography and the plastic arts. From one signature topic to another (historical cities, building sites, high-rise blocks and factories), from one polyptych to its counterpart, and from Structuralist film to vast photographic strips printed and pasted directly onto gallery walls, Couturier has unfurled a whole gamut of strategies to counter the common belief, now raised to the ranks of doctrine, that sees images as transparent, mere conveyors of visual information.

Although reality permeates every pore of Stéphane Couturier’s photographic world, it does not so much represent a mirror as a woven, or more precisely interlaced, pattern of openwork screens. In his discovery and relentless exploration of sites all over the world, the artist has always sought to highlight the invisible framework. Except, of course, when he succeeds on the contrary in superimposing an exogenous but visible structure that enables the photograph to be seen—indeed, any pictorial representation, such as that produced in hyperrealist art—as a surface plastered over reality. In other words, a camouflage. By relying on the powerful impact generated by this reality, emphasized by surgical precision and a remarkable profusion of details, Couturier’s oeuvre gives the viewer the fleeting impression of tapping into a credible sample of its perceptive expression, an authentic fragment, as a new site might appear through the microscope of discovery. In all probability, it is at this very moment of relative, superficial recognition that the hiatus occurs, the flaw in the undeniably virtual system of photography.


Extract from "Deconstruction site", by Matthieu Poirier, September 2016.