Photography is the ideal medium for capturing the fleeting gesture and rendering it permanent in the manner of the decisive moment of Cartier-Bresson. The Alvarez-Bravo, Halsman and the Mahurin works are in this classic tradition. Roland Barthes put this approach into a more critical context in Camera Lucida(1980) when he wrote, "I imagine that the essential gesture of the photographer is to surprise something or someone through the little hole in the camera." Contemporary photographers have moved beyond this to pose or fabricate their own scenes; Coventry, Shrigley and Perrin are examples of this. Rosalind E. Kraus wrote, "By exposing the multiplicity, the facticity, the repetition and stereotype at the heart of every aesthetic gesture, photography deconstructs the possibility of differentiating between the original and the copy." The search for the real amongst the artificial is at the heart of this post-modern approach.
There is however in every photograph the gesture behind the camera, that of the photographer. The geste photographiquelies at the heart of Flusser's philosophy of photography. "The photographer’s gesture, as the search for a viewpoint onto a scene, takes place within the possibilities offered by the apparatus." he wrote in Towards a Theory of Techno-Imagination(1980). Heidersberger is a photographer who extended the possibilities of the photographic apparatus and set in motion a light pendulum and his work is a pure record of this gesture. Hartmann makes a similar gesture with the laser light played upon his daughter. Breuer and Yokota each make gestures which push the bounds of photographic apparatus beyond its limits; Breuer using a sling to shoot screws at photographic paper and Yokota directly chemically altering the film.
When the artist turns the camera on themselves we have a doubling of these gestures. We find this here in the works of Turk, Lucas and Ned&ShivaProductions, a complex interplay between the gesture made in front of the camera and the gesture made behind.
Piss Discus by Andres Serrano is perhaps the most layered of works within this critique. The homoerotic statue, a cheap copy of a copy of the lost original, is frozen in a gesture and now captured forever bathed in the golden glow of the artists urine.
GESTE is presented in the convivial and domestic setting of a Haussmannian apartment. Curated by Shiva Lynn Burgos and Hailey Widrig, GESTE investigates the concept of the photographic gesture in its various interpretations and sensibilities to initiate and carry out an action, a physical technique, an emotion, an artistic ideal.
Selected artists include Maurizio Anzeri, Samuel Boutruche, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Marco Breuer, Shiva Lynn Burgos, Keith Coventry, Patrick and Tristram Fetherstonhaugh, Phillipe Halsman, Erich Hartmann, Heinrich Heidersberger, Marianne Katser, Sara Lucas, Man Ray, Matt Mahurin, Brian Miller, Daido Moriyama, Max Mulhern, Ned&ShivaProductions, Frank Perrin, Andres Serrano, David Shrigley, Gavin Turk, Christopher Williams, Daisuke Yokota.