© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

It’s one of those rare, and thus special occasions, when I find a body of work I completely connect to in a rational, emotional, intellectual and intuitive level. Here’s a first post about his work and I foresee making more about it once I have the time to take the plunge.

What follows is an excerpt of a text written by Béatrice Han:

“Vincent Cordebard steals other peoples photographs and reworks them with ink, fountain pen, and water. He makes dark blotches; his faces-blind and mute, corroded and obstructed-reveal the pain of bruised interiority, the place where humanity’s nocturnal attributes make their brutal appearance-the dark side where, according to Georges Bataille, transgression, eroticism, and death occur. Outside of accepted morality, these mutilated photos present themselves to the viewer as if they were meditations on inhumanity, on the theoretical and ethical scandal of beauty that emerges from horror. This is what the profanation of the face and the human values it symbolizes reveals to us. This expressivities, which cannot be apprehended except as a paradoxical form of thwarted integrity, and the human features through which it is revealed, are the subject of the intense questioning which Cordebard’s strange and difficult faces bring to light, a questioning undertaken with such intensity that the spectator’s vision is challenged by the violence of which he is the willing witness. Is this a kind of voyeurism, a fascination with an obscure, inhuman, yet twin dimension, which human relationships hide under the familiarity of the everyday, like the obverse of the reverse side of the medal? If, as Levinas wrote, the face “rends apart what is sensitive1”, what do we see when the wound becomes the face and, inversely, the face becomes the wound?


The child is thus twice deprived of life: as agisant which death has emptied of its individuality, he is also, in the symbolic order, divested of his face, which no longer exists except as a fragile skin carefully sewn onto meat. Yet, although it is no longer capable of representing its humanity, this abused face does not become a thing among other things. Annihilated subject and impossible object, the face of this dead child’s still, by its very structure, the paradoxical and fleeting place of a desperate cry of protest, the cry of an abolished individuality whose features dehumanize it, of a person who has become his, her own negation. Thus, in a final reversal, the face’s refusal to become an object continues to bear witness, within the very process that seeks to destroy it, to the tenuous but incomes-table presence of a humanity which can only express itself as resistance. A negative medium, surely, but all the more forceful, like the naked and desperate violence in Auschwitz which Hannah Arendt describes7 as an affirmation of an ultimate revolt, a testimony given by a person in extremis when all other means of expression have been taken away. “I reveal faces, ” affirms Cordebard, even as he mutilates them. The epiphanic structure of a face is reversed one last time. The positive revelation of the humanas person, then of the inhuman as destruction, finally brings these two aspects to a paroxysm which is all the more tragic for its lack of catharsis. We are given a vision that is nearly unbearable to contemplate, but which is never-the less “unpardonably beautiful”… This is why, finally, the picture’s context is ethical and its request, imperious: whether beauty can redeem the scandal which gave it life, and whether, measured by the compassion and respect a human face deserves, the act of cruelty which attempts to destroy it merits any justification besides the aesthetic. An acutely painful question, doomed to remain unanswered, and which it is to Cordebard’s credit to have dared to ask.”

Vincent Cordebard’s work here

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