Ros Boisier – Inside



“Of what one cannot speak, whereof one must be silent.” L.W.


Sure, it’s slightly glib to usher in a review with Wittgenstein’s oft-quoted (often misaligned, here too) citation regarding meaning and language. It will surely make scholars of the philosopher’s work uncomfortable/annoyed. Yet, I frequently think of this quote for my purposes when looking at images accompanied by little overall context. I want the quote to be flexible and fit how I feel about photography these days.



Perhaps it is laziness, or perhaps it is an adequate quote that sums up my fatigue in reading overwrought press releases and artist statements, which rarely tender what I see in a body of work with any semblance of correlation. We have gotten to the point of art speak that I cannot even be bothered with reading intentions without reading a massive amount of insecurity covered in crude intellectualisms on the part of the artist/publisher, which diminishes greatly, the effect of their work on me. We have all been there, but it seems abundant in 2024. Below is a pull quote the exemplifies this for me. Though I understand it, and though it comes from a curator, I look at it as an obtuse form of communication and I can read the desperation between the lines. It found it so empty, that it makes me want to purge all forms of this type of reading from my routine.


“I am concerned with the intersection between critical and creative writing and often interweave art criticism with other forms of storytelling. I believe that curating is a practice that goes beyond making exhibitions and creates new creative methods to generate, convey and reflect knowledge in a transdisciplinary and transcultural context.” (My Italics)



This sort of quote reminds me of the simple curse of speaking plainly in a world that demands that written language be delivered bedeviled in the jeweled crust of bougie talking points and catch phrases that cover all bases to let you know the writer is on board, that they are able to be safely commercialized with current dogma and overreach. We do not speak this way in person, do we?  I shouldn’t think so, so why should we discuss our aims in the production of work as such? Before you think this is a specific shot at a specific person that is not my intention, it is rather a general example that illustrates my gripe and is but one of any overwrought quotes I am forced to read through on a daily basis while researching an artists work or their press releases. The reason I take umbrage to it is that I believe it exists to oversubscribe us to the need for contextualizing everything in abundance, which I believe might be a mistake when it comes to photography.



The ability to contextualize photographic work is often undergirded by the belief that it needs to have reason categorized by shared meaning. Its approximate relationship to reality, however arguable, provides a stimulus by which its audiences believe the receipts due should correlate with what they think they’re seeing in the image or series of images. At the core of photography is a constant claim that we need to speak about what we see in a series of images and that we need agree on its meaning. As someone who enjoys photographs in the context of a photobook, I am often found prey to these conclusions as to how to disseminate what I see to others. Often, there is a strong thread throughout the work that I can attach a relational context. It is how one “reads” the work. This is often how the Western audience and its artists decide on how to interpret and intend work respectively.


Rant aside, and for purposes of Ros Boisier’s excellent book Inside published by Editions Muga, I wanted to outline how I am going to approach this photobook and how I am beginning to approach photography more and more without leveraging such jargon onto a body of work. Though I am unafraid to look at work where complexity is concerned, I start to feel more and more like the sham of academia is actually dragging down the way in which we speak about images. Who would’ve thought that in regarding intellectual pursuits like this, it could be seen as an impediment, instead of an asset to the experience of art? It does not seem logical and yet here we are with our isms and our trans, trans, trans banter. Transisms a word yet to be coined.



Thoughout Inside, I am left to wonder through a somber non-linear group of images set in stark monochrome. Trees, dolomites, and architecture make up a large amount of the imagery, but the sequence of the book is dotted along the way with atmospheric images of clouds, birds, and bramble. Many of the images look to have been photographed at night, flash illuminating the surface of the subject matter, creating a subtle claustrophobia which shifts the reader’s perception between diurnal readings of the work. Night becomes day, day flips back to night and we are locked in a question of tumult that is seemingly intentional, asking the reader not to fixate on any one thread within the sequence, preferring instead to lock the reader out of plausible definitions of meaning through active storytelling/documentary impulses. This is only my subjectivity reading what I see, and I hope the reader comes through an entirely different set of experiences or agreements/disagreements.


The concept of stone also becomes significant in the sequence, reducing the images to the possible conceptual motif of the elemental. Between the images of foliage and natural images of trees, air, aviary life, the stone is found as is, but also becomes a surface in the lived human environment/urban edifices-I struggled to say urban environment as I am unsure as to where exactly these images were made. Between the images of dolomites (Spain or France) and the use of stone for building architecture and stairways that lead to unknown quarters, the references recur and ask the viewer to consider how elemental everything is, how human pursuit is measured against its ability to build and maintain shelter in a world easily shrouded in ecological succession. Something primordial occurs between the two uses of stone and the natural materiality of the subject matter suggests a temporality of human  observation. It reminds us of our insignificance. With the title Inside, I am reminded of Paracelsian physician Robert Fludd’s notion of our terrarium orb planet, with its varying concourses which illuminate the atmospheric conditions from the macro to the micro in perspective. The levels of the orb including man, God, and a helpful suggestion of other esoteric tendencies are compressed in the ether, all intermingled to create an order or the perception of order. To suggest that we are Inside is to suggest shelter, but also that we exist in a microcosm of what is potential in the larger experience of habitable life.


In reference to other artist’s finding their way through the aesthetic similarities of Ros’s work, I might mention the slight Sci-fi interplay of Geert Goiris’s work, perhaps Aleix Plademunt’s investigation of matter, perhaps the new wave of Belgian artists examining the world in similar ways from Joselito Verschaeve and Sybren Vanoverberghe. The terrestrial nature of the work coupled with its mystery and purposeful avoidance of lengthy texts or associated verbiage creates a world in which to imagine possibility, something needed in our overwrought system of explanations for everything. The book object is sparse on the design front and is humble in size, which leads to something that suggests simplicity.  The cumulative effect is something mysterious, yet scrutable. It is sustained by the images themselves which, in their aggregate allow the reader’s mind to project over that of being forced to feel complicit in an already established dialogue, which is refreshing.



Ros Boisier

Editions Muga




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