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Visual artist and filmmaker, Clément Cogitore merges animated and static images


Author: Marc Pottier, Art Curator based in Rio de Janeiro
Article published on August 3, 2020
Original Article

[What happened to the 2018 Marcel-Duchamp Prize?] Since the South Korean Nam June Paik (1936-2006), considered one of the founders of video art, projections continue to be integrated into visual arts. The visual artist and filmmaker Clément Cogitore has become a master in the fusion of moving and static images. He has a wish: « In art, it is neither a matter of inventing nor of reproducing forms, but of capturing forces. » He is currently exhibiting at LUMA in Arles until September 27th.


After studying at the University of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg, and at the National Fresnoy-Studio of Contemporary Arts, Clément Cogitore who was born in Colmar in 1983 and who now lives between Paris and Berlin, started using film, video (but also sometimes installations or photographs) to question the modalities of human cohabitation with their images.

Whether in the form of a documentary, (the feature film “Ni le ciel ni la terre” (Neither Sky nor Earth), on a control and surveillance mission in Afghanistan, selected for the Critics’ Week at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival) or at the opera, he claims a personal modus operandi: « To establish very precise rules and leave uncontrollable elements in the middle, chancing that it will produce meaning and form. »



2015 Trailer for film: NI LE CIEL, NI LA TERRE (Neither Sky nor Earth)


The culture shock was his remarkable interpretation of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera Les Indes Galantes, first as a short film in 2017 which earned him a César nomination in 2019 as the best short film category, then staging it in its entirety at the Opéra de Paris with unanimous critical success in 2019.


The short film is an adaptation of the famous ballet « Les Sauvages », which it transforms with the help of a crew [of hip hop dancers] from Krump (born in the Los Angeles ghettos in the 90s) and which succeeds with remarkable mastery in renewing the genre of the hyper rigid world of Opera.



Trailer Les Indes Galantes


This unfiltered passage from one era to another, from a frame we believe to freeze to another in movement, is already one of the strengths of his realization « Momento Mori » (2012), where five wolves emerge from the mist while wandering in an artificial space, which combines a children’s square fence, with an opera setting and a zoo enclosure. Cogitore offers here a video board accompanying an oratorio made up of unpublished moral cantatas by composer Luigi Rossi and spiritual madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi.


Video: Extracts from Momento Mori


The manifestation of the sacred, a metaphorical discourse on vanities underpins the work of Clément Cogitore which is not subject to any rules and takes us to personal or collective borders of fictional and mythological landscapes. We find ourselves in Egypt, Moscow, in the Roman catacombs, in a submarine but also on the surface of human skin, the sands of the desert or of the Lascaux caves. Cogitore treats his installations, photos and films with visual intensity and a sense of storytelling bordering with the fantastic.


“Visually, I think that my whole universe of visual artist is present, in the representation of bodies and landscapes, as in the sometimes experimental use of infrared and thermal technologies. Regarding the issues explored (belief, rituals, representation of the invisible), these are questions that I have been working on since the start of my career.” He confides. This investigation enables the videographer to be connected with some of the greatest artists, such as at the Chagall Museum in Nice (from May 11 to October 28, 2019).



Reportage on his exhibition at the Chagall Museum (11th May to 28th Octobre 2019)


Internationally recognized, the artist has continued to accumulate awards. Already at the beginning of his career he was awarded in 2011 the Grand Prix of the Salon de Montrouge for the ‘hunting scene’ (a video installation on the remains of miradors watchtowers at the edge of Europe to denounce the way in which politics transform human beings into prey when we assume that the borders are threatened).

He was offered a residency at the Académie de France at Rome-Villa Medici in 2012. His films have been selected and awarded at numerous international festivals (Cannes, Locarno, Telluride, Los Angeles, San Sebastian).

Clément Cogitore, an artist whose fictional challenges and collaborative interpretations we want to follow whether at the cinema, on his computer or his smartphone.