ANCIENT FEARS AND MODERN INSTRUMENTS OF TORTURE

The morbid electronical music of DIE FORM has won a fan audience in scene circles, particularly in Germany and Japan. The man behind this brand name is the Frenchman Philippe Fichot. In parallel with his musical oeuvre Fichot has created a photographic one consisting not only of videos conceived as visual supplements for his music, but also of traditional black-and-white photographs.

Philippe Fichot is a perfectionist and the reference to tradition is vital to him, not least in terms of technique. As regards motifs, Fichot’s photos belong to the genre of a black horror poetry stretching from the romantics via surrealism to the present.

Eroticism and death, sexuality and agony, beauty and putrefaction are the dualisms Fichot presents as a union.

This “border transgression” fascinated Wiesbaden publisher Donna Klemm so intensely that she published Fichot’s photographs in a book entitled THE VISIONARY GARDEN in her Artware Edition.

Fichot’s pictures are highly artificial installations. By laboratory processing they are endowed with a patina of decay and decomposition, so that the resulting image is not longer comparable to any existing reality.

According to an ancient topos the ambivalence of eroticism and death is revealed in the beauty of the female body. To enact this ambivalence Fichot invokes the obsessions of collective consciousness. In the Ophelia motif the beautiful young corpse melts with nature. Fichot embeds the bodies in grass and herb, covers them with leaves and dissolves the contours to such an extent that the body becomes part of its surroundings. This process receives a classical note when the body is adapted to a stone environment – columns or walls.

Fichot invokes passion with a lethal outcome – which Christian religion placed under a taboo – in a draping and undraping game with white children’s clothes and a black nun’s habit which is overlaid by the witch motif and the connected torture instruments.

These are of more contemporary origin: machines, implements, chains, cords, corsets, bandages, tubes and clamps from modern intensive medicine. They visualise both the fear of the loss of physical integrity, which appears archaic and sombre in Fichot’s morbid aesthetics, as well as sexual violence fantasies. Accordingly the women appear partly innocently virginal and partly wanton and whorelike.

Pictures showing a woman and machine components in a kind of patchwork co-assembly are a special variant of Fichot’s art. The fragmentation engendered by this construction appears to the viewer as abstract image material in which the mere idea of physical unity is dissolved.

Heike MARX / Die Rheinpfalz / April 07, 1997

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