Since its inception, photography has been a busy arena of arbitration of the real. As a purely mechanical device with a disinterested eye, it captures what we have until recently tended to trust is “the truth” of the physical world. Dissolving that notion has been the work of many photographers that have come along since. Valérie Belin, Paris-based and born in 1964, takes a quite literal approach to her interrogation of a photograph’s veracity by exploring the ambiguity of lifelike objects and tableaux that are real in one sense and unreal in another. What may at first glance seem animate — high-grade mannequins and wax-museum figures, for instance — soon morph in the mind to eerie simulacra of authentic life. They’re a kind of trompe l’oeil in which the camera becomes a co-conspirator. This has led Belin into the adjacent areas of mortality, beauty and fake versus real allure in contemporary women, which she tackles in a widening range of superimposed imagery.
An exhibition of Belin’s newest work opens at the Brussels branch of Galerie Nathalie Obadia on April 22.
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