Christophe Rihet: Road to Death

Maison des Peintres, Arles; 03/07/17 to 24/09/17

This is aftermath photography focusing on automotive deaths of public figures. All images seem to have been taken at twilight, lending both a consistent aesthetic and a slightly unsettling limbo sensation to the images. The ambience is further reinforced by making the scenes bereft of people and almost completely free of cars too (a busy Paris street being the exception).

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Most scenes are shot deadpan and have a static feel to them; some are of winding roads and evoke more the run-up than the death itself.

The presentation has an interesting twist: it’s in a long, thin room with strip-lighting on the floor instead of the ceiling, such that it emulates the white lines down the middle of the road. Ironically, I saw one person trip over it (an accident in an exhibition of accidents). So contextual presentation can have its risks!

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The odd thing about this was that Rihet dilutes his own concept unnecessarily: the blurb, and almost all of the images, are related to car accidents. The nature of accidents and the way they randomly, indiscriminately interrupt life is the key message. So why does he then include two shootings and two suicides that just happen to have taken place in cars? The nature of these deaths is very different to the rest. I found the inclusion of these entirely discordant and distracting.

Main takeaway

If you have a theme, stick to it!