A murder is the sinister name for a group of crows, and not surprisingly, crows and ravens are often associated with bad omens or death. They are victims of their appearance, however; in reality, they are highly social creatures in their interactions with each other, and sometimes even with humans. Guillaume Simoneau experienced their characters as a child, as can be seen in the photographs that his mother, Jeanne-d’Arc Fournier, took of the boy with a group of crows his family had adopted. The loving gaze reflected in those images evokes innocent joy only fleetingly, however, as the artist starkly juxtaposes it with scenes of a bird of prey violently attacking a crow. Murder here takes on a literal meaning, shattering romantic visions of days gone by.
Thirty years after this episode from his childhood, the artist realized that 1982, his year of the crows, was also the year that Ravens, the iconic book by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase (1934–2012), was published. This thought sparked a trip to Japan, where he created new images that he could use to orchestrate a meeting between the friendly crows he knew as a child and Fukase’s melancholy ravens, thereby rendering a kind of violent homage to the birds. The images evoke the notion of the temptation of death, not as a search for the end, but as a turning point or transformation. There is therefore no clear conclusion, but only an endless starting over, reflecting the tragic complexity of life.
This exhibition is part of the Serpents Futures programming, which observes what happens when our fragility takes over and opens up unexpected avenues. The artists are sensitive to what is beyond the here and now, and their work testifies to their openness to what both beings and images may become.