Moth light—Absent Forms
Cover Story, June 2017
The Latitudes-curated Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes & des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne opened at Meessen De Clercq, Brussels, in February 2011. More a series of five interlinked solo presentations than a conventional thematic group exhibition, it featured the work of Kasper Akhøj, Martí Anson, Maria Loboda, Charlotte Moth and Sarah Ortmeyer.
Charlotte Moth showed The Absent Forms (2010), an assured film comprised of a ten-minute sequence of black-and-white photographs with a soundtrack taken from a recording of an improvised drumming session. In the stills, reflective, translucent and opaque panels—as well as props including balls and a plant—become protagonists in a series of illuminated crepuscular and nocturnal scenes which take place on an angular, tree-lined Paris cul-de-sac. The street is no ordinary one. Its remarkable modernist buildings were designed as a totality by the little-known architect Robert Mallet-Stevens and constructed in 1926–27. Charlotte reimagined the street as a stage set for the dramatisation of the mechanics of the photographic image, and alluded to the scenic role it had played in a number of film productions in which Mallet-Stevens collaborated, including the Josephine Baker vehicle La sirène des tropiques (1927). Textual fragments written in response to Man Ray’s 1929 film Les Mystères du Château de Dé (which uses a Mallet-Stevens-designed villa as a set) intercut the images.
Charlotte’s compelling work over the last decade has led to her nomination for this year’s Marcel Duchamp Prize alongside Maja Bajevic, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, and Vittorio Santoro. The exhibition of the shortlisted artists will open at Centre Pompidou on 27 September.