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Photographs & Audio

Rarement nous parlons des choses en termes propres, plus souvent en termes impropres (non proprie), mais on saisit ce que nous voulons dire.

(Paul Ricœur 1983, 65)


Through a combination of image and narrative, Stiv Vadahi and Erien Withouck aim to contest the referential, documentary and historical function of the photographic medium. By conversing, they reflect on the authorative character of image, not only photographic, but further as components of a monumental history. Voices question and break the prevalence of the images, showing a historical plurality. Monuments are captured in a living and dynamic manner both inside and outside the frames, attempting to break through the surface of the images. In a culture where this medium dominates and used to dominate, where visual culture is manipulated in the form of advertisement and propaganda, these conversations work as an attempt to resist.


Albania, a country which knows a rich and layered history, is perceived through two different perspectives; one carries a nostalgic glance at his abandoned homeland, the other carries a wondered first gaze as a tourist. Myth, ‘the history’ and overheard whispers are combined; fact and fiction are questioned to break with a dominant narrative. By distinguishing different layers of history they arrive via Nietzsche and Benjamin at the idea of bursting ‘the history’ (historia) and multiplying (historae). Through voices, the viewer imagines further, so the images which were not taken can also speak.


The combination of image, sound and story lead them to the title ‘Phototropism’. A trope is a figure of speech through which an existing expression is used improperly. A broken expression, in a way also a broken cliché, is given new life. Splintered archaic figures of speech, photographs and different narratives form a mozaik by which new light is shone on the whole. This new light brightens the obscure beyond the photographic frame.

Erien Withouck