Considered one of the leading photographers of our time, Polidori transcends the limits of photography and captures traces of the human condition—paradoxically, in places that have usually been abandoned and are devoid of human presence. Each photograph amounts to a social portrait, revealing the soul of its various subjects, and layering both past and present in poignant works steeped in sorrow and beauty.
The exhibition offers a survey of Polidori’s practice through fifty-nine large colour photographs, including works from the main series he has produced in the last twenty-odd years, from 1985 up to 2007. First, the Versailles series, in progress since 1985, brings to light the successive restorations undergone by this highly symbolic site that is part of our collective memory, awakening in viewers a pervasive sense of history. In the photograph Velours Frappé and Ladder, for example, the passage of time is made visible through a series of enfilading openings. The near-painterly Beirut (1994-1996), with its subtle colours and rendering of line and material, offers glimpses of the city’s ruin that foreshadow the apocalyptic visions of the series that would follow. Havana (1997-2000) attests to a dual-faceted urban reality: the splendid past of these sumptuous colonial homes and the dilapidated present state of the same houses. Pripyat and Chernobyl (2001) makes us all witnesses to the worst nuclear catastrophe in history, which occurred in 1986. It reverberates with exile, devastation and abandonment. The destruction is complete in the series New Orleans (2005-2006), produced in the months that followed the dreadful Hurricane Katrina.
Complementing these works is a 1985 series focusing on New York and a critical exploration of the urban landscape through the buildings of Amman, Jordan (1996) and the streets of Varanasi, India (2007).
“Where you point the camera is the question,” writes the artist, “ and the picture you get is the answer to decipher.” Answers that will go straight to the core of your being.