AN ALPHABET OF SECRETS
Without doubt, we must go back to childhood, ‘the living sources of childhood,’ as it was beautifully put by André Breton, to be able to find comparable powers of observation.
The dreamy child, the morose child, the punished child know better than anyone who to immerse themselves in detail that will see time gliding over them without distracting them, fully surrendering to this haunting image that will forever remain with them, a long time after still reminded of it by a scent, a phrase, the persistent memory of a dream upon waking.
The adult, when it is Anne-Sophie Costenoble, knew how to maintain this concentration that sees time stand still because of one detail, a lasting meanwhile. In these photographs there is the rustling of the forest at dawn, crumpled bedsheets, the palm caressing the memory of a loved one’s body, the folds in a curtain or the underarm skin; there is hair, seaweed, feathers, scales, the tired reflection of a mirror like eternal wrinkles. There is the beauty of women, their barely concealed sex, a pulled back shoulder, half-open lips. Perhaps there is also the memory of old engravings, Brocéliande’s forest or the one by Gustave Doré, where a lost child plants little white stones.
Each of Anne-Sophie Costenoble’s images is a poem, lukewarm water to let oneself slide into, without fear or anguish about endangering what is flowering on the surface, a meditative photograph which has made a pact of silence, a ‘primitive’ photograph –inverted commas added by me – each one seeming to contait part of the world order since all its elements are contained therein and there is a place for all the senses.
Not so much music, but some scattered notes, a fluttering of wings, whispered photographs like night time secrets we once shared with one whose face is hidden in the shadows : photographs spoken in low voices, for the eyes and for the ears, a whole alphabet of secret which the photographer will hold onto to half-open the lexis, furtive and sublime moments that would remain invisible if she had not known how to catch them.
So much modesty and conciseness that trying to put a few words beside these images would be like betraying them yet I am, however, trying to do it.
In vain, moreover, since they are so beautiful and disturbing, they will conceal the secret which now binds us to them.
Xavier Canonne, May 2016
PHOTOGRAPHER OF SILENCE
Thanks to Anne-Sophie Costenoble, the viewer learns to see images differently, The promise of a new horizon beckons, an adventure both in the sense of photography but also existence. The photographs create openings and offer time for reflection. That is why the image here is never void of its substance and that allows it to revive a presence.
There is ‘feeling at one with it’ when the photograph become a way of transmitting what is felt. According to the creator, it must never leave the body, its joy, its muted anxieties, its silence and sometimes its intimacy.
Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret, November 2015
The photographer says to pull open the strip on her latest work with an excerpt from the book Secret Crystallization by Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa: ‘My memories are never permanently deleted as if they had been uprooted. Even though they seem to have disappeared, there are still traces of memory somewhere. Like tiny seeds. If rain falls on them, they sprout forth again. And besides, even if the memories are no longer there, sometimes the heart keeps some traces of them. An earth tremor.’
This is surely the same tremor that pulsates through Anne-Sophie Costenoble’s images. The series ‘The Silence of the Bird’ emerges from emotion and returns there, rising, concentrated. Ordinary and fragile moments, snippets of a story without words (or simply whispered) without noise (or simply muffled, distant), freed from intimacy, a necklace of trinkets that scratch the heart and carry with them a unique poetry, seemingly beyond time.
Where does the impression of literary density in this project emerge from? . . . Proustian madeleines, childhood memories, loved ones barely touched, objects carrying mute messages, alternating familiarity with strangeness. Faces, grace. No words though, not exactly, but rather the quivering of a confession which completely takes in the entire layering of images. They are addressed to the eye, but speak just as much to the touch, to hearing, to smell. . . . They call out to be tasted rather than understood.
After studying physiotherapy and art history, Anne-Sophie Costenoble discovered photographic practice slowly, gradually expanding her understanding of the world. Attendance at workshops, crucial encounters (with Françoise Huguier, Jean-François Spricigo, Nicolas Van Brande) led her work along new paths: a member of the Caravan collective and an eager follower of a documentary approach, one has the feeling that the photographer has followed the call of a small and more personal inner voice, one made up of undertones, puzzles brushed by fingertips, introspection, sensuality.
She also came to offer images in the form of installation: shots taken by her or old photographs, preserved but at the same time put at a distance under globes of glass. Two sound projects by Valérie Callewaert (a radio producer) complete the proposal supporting the overall purpose of the exhibition. A fable of muffled sound emanating from one of the seven wedded globes, and in an isolated room, a film made up of images she selected from the series ‘The Silence of the Bird’. Evocation of the imprint of time on the pictures meditation on their emotional impact – whether mental or physical.
The photographs of Anne-Sophie Costenoble reveal then even more than they actually are: the listening rooms, directly in tune with the stirrings of the heart, in collusion with bits of light lurking in the darkness – dustings of fire on the nocturnal icing of memory.
Emmanuel d’Autreppe, February 2014
A mere murmur comes along with me, silence hovers over these photographs.
Silence such as the silence that follows love, storms, silence that takes your breath away because it has always been with us. A timeless silence that demands nothing more than its own echo. No comment is required, contrary to explicitating art cherished by speculators. Here things are obvious, a breath, a blowing wind that goes along with the wanderer's landscape. I barely utter a few words intended to prolong a while the apnoea necessary to fully receive these visions, as they are unveiled to me. A moment caught between the heights of its clearsightedness, as between inspiration and expiration, a moment such as the obturator clap that creates at once that which has been seen and that already brought to being.
Anne-Sophie Costenoble's nascent work of art is embodied in a rare way, unlike so many of its kind, moved by the subtle will to open to Life up to its borders, rather than by the will to comply with moral territories presuming they can understand Life.
These photographs are endowed with a talent to see the beauty of shadows, of ever-changing Life. Indifferent to fashion, they will prove faithful when our absence melodies march along. No doubt they will cause many to worry when they refuse to recognise themselves in them, but they give us, at everything turn, the rare priviledge of never having stopped loving.
Jean-François Spricigo, January 2014