Ciel Variable

The Intensity of the Gaze

May 21, 2014

Pierre Gonnord’s photographic portraits are fascinating for the experience that they offer us. The models gaze straight at the photographer’s lens, and we are taken aback: we feel like they are staring at us. This disconcerting sensation is due less to the meeting of our respective gazes than to the relationship of exchange that is surreptitiously created between them and us. Thus, our discomfort results in part from our sudden hesitation about what we would like to acknowledge in this impromptu relationship. If the intensity of the gazes aimed at us hardly encourages us to conceive of an intimate relationship with these unknown people, we have nevertheless already entered, in spite of ourselves, into a relationship of proximity. The framings not only give us to understand that there is some form of engagement between the photographer and his models, they also forcibly draw us closer to these models, to be symbolically within arm’s length. Now, the point is less for us to try to regain our distance than to look for what these photographic portraits are asking us to envisage. Translated by Käthe Roth. [See the printed magazine for the complete article].

Author Biography
Pierre Rannou is an art critic and art historian who works as an exhibition curator. He has published essays in collected works and magazines and written several exhibition catalogues. He teaches in the Film and Communications Department and the Art History Department at Collège Édouard-Montpetit.