MAFIA, 1996

Jean-Luc Blanc's drawings compile what's already there: images he extracts from films, from postcards, from press photographs, from magazines, from leaflets. They form a lame inventory, which he says measures up to a common scandal, completely garish, and which he thinks belongs to an indeterminate and yet definitive space, somewhere in between an illumination and a pig sly.

Before roaching the state which enables him to point out this common scandal - or, always in his own terms, to measure the roots of the uneasiness images always breed - JL Blanc begins by making a multitude of sketches which he then sets aside. It is in this phase that the already constituted images he selects are deconstructed and that the motif is isolated. Resonating in a void, detached from the signifying system which habitually directs its perception, the figure acquires a generally incomprehensible character. Like a floating sign, it is projected in a space where it only seems to function in the register of the spectacular - that is, as a form to identify with, against which the spectator must conjure his own ressources to recompose its signifying process. In this process, each viewer finds the occasion to examine the ways in which the most naked and brutal strings of his relationship to images are constituted through the pathetic and the sublime. The pathetic, in the way the flame from a candle, an upside-down chair, a broken skull, a woman kneeling from the back or a man in ecstasy in front of a banner which says Jesus loves us can raise feelings which can saturate the field of representation. And the sublime, in the way the same images reflect almost inconditionally the collapse of language - the very language which should enable us to deal with the singularity of these images according to rational categories. JL Blanc doesn't hesitate to play with narrative sequences. For about ten years, he ceaselessly has refined his technique to produce this effect, notably by shifting from line drawing to color, by reinforcing the feeling of fragmentation through close-ups, or by paying special attention to the backgrounds behind his figures. This narrative effect is also reinforced by the short statements he reproduces on black background, reminiscent of the textual interludes in silent movies. But what a disjunction or the sign of a dysfunction underlining the discontinuity of our imaginary? Under this angle, the Imaginary therefore does not look so much as a field of ruins, but rather like a space whose identity stays precarious and fluid, subject to multiple impregnations, influences, and alienations.

Text of the exhibition Sing- Sing, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, MAMCO, Geneva, 2000.