Self (S)expression is not, you may be surprised to learn, the name of a lost Barry White album. It is in fact an exhibition beginning later this week at Zurich’s Galerie Bob van Orsouw, which explores “desire, eroticism, and the human figure” through the work of five male photographers. Nobuyoshi Araki’s bondage geishas, Carlo Mollino’s tender polaroids and the vérité voyeurism of Miroslav Tichý and Gerard P. Fieret have few equals in the imagery of compulsive prurience. All of them exhibit an overwhelming fixation on their subject matter which blurs the boundaries between life and art.
But even that quartet can barely compete with the all-consuming erotic mania of French artist Pierre Molinier. And unlike them, Molinier had the balls, if you will, to not only observe but assume the form of the objects of his voracious gaze. The exhibition catches Molinier at a time when interest in his work is higher than at any time since his suicide in 1976 (an event which, like every other facet of his life, he managed to eroticise). He is, for example, the subject of a new documentary by Dominique Roland, Les Jambes de Saint-Pierre (Pierre Molinier, the Legs of Saint-Pierre’s quarter):
Pierre Molinier, photographer and painter, was found dead, semi-naked, killed by a bullet to the head, on his bed in his bedroom. The documentary “the Legs of Saint-Pierre quarter” showcases the life of this enigmatic and explosive personality. The film is an exploration of every word, everything, that makes up the reality of 1976. Turning over every leaf, it strives to approach Molinier’s artistic energy focusing on fetishes that pay homage to Eros in androgyny, decadence and temptation. Molinier’s unity is an astonishing fusion of life and work.
Like Jessica Yu’s documentary about Henry Darger, or indeed this year’s study of Claude Cahun, Roland’s film explores its subject’s creative process by bringing its end products to life. It forms part of a whole festival of Molinierian wonder (programme PDF here, in French) in the artist’s home city of Bordeaux, including another exhibition which runs until late December (information here, in French) and puts Molinier alongside the likes of Cindy Sherman and Larry Clark. Finally, the recently published novel La Photo n’est pas sensible, by Vincent Labaume (information here, in French), takes Molinier’s work as its starting point.
Here is the tantalisingly short trailer for Les Jambes de Saint-Pierre (click here if you don’t see it embedded):