Nicolas Descottes - 3199 LM Maasvlakte

What makes reality, reality? Photography can enable us to understand that reality because it is an index of what is happening all around us, a sort of witness of ?what happened?. But photography can be even more than that because by contrast it can also be a constructed image. Fiction can sometimes better explain what reality consists of than reality in itself because of what if borrows from reality and what it leaves behind.

In the 3199 LM MAASVLAKTE photography series of Nicolas Descottes, taken somewhere in the industrial zone of Rotterdam, certain aspects presented a very real vision: the events obviously took place. There was a fire, water, and carbonic snow. The materials did indeed burn like indicated by the white turned steel of the tank (1st test)

 These events have left marks, which brings this serie very close to the ones in ?Burns?, also produced by Nicolas Descottes in 2002. There also the fire transformed all living things, leaving only traces that invite the viewer into all sorts of drama but which the pictures do not say a word about.

Nevertheless there is still too many marks, too much water and too much snow to fight against the never ending fires for us to believe in these catastrophes. They cannot have all happened in that same place. That series of events is highly improbable.

However, certain details lack realism in order to create this fiction. Thus, a movie set or an amusement park for example would probably  better complete this inadequate illusion : there is no singular context that is put forward, barring all details enabling us to situate the scene precisely in time or space. The objects are constructed in a neglected manner that denies their own functions: the helicopter has a tiny propeller (test n°13), the plane has no tail (test n°3), thus we cannot believe that they once flew.

Unlike the relationship that is usually happening between reality and fiction, where fiction commands reality without existence, the photographies of the 3199 LM MAASVLAKTE series, demonstrate a fiction that has become effective: what distinguishes fiction from reality are the elements that blemish the function of the object.

It is the total opposite of a realistic fiction that polishes details at the expenses of existence; these images propose a fictional reality, an intermediate ontological status between fiction and reality where things have been happening but in a very bizarre manner.

However this weirdness of reality is it not what photography from the very beginning has tried to reveal?

Doesn?t photography exhibit what isn?t familiar in the familiar? Thanks to the aspect of things that are fabricated, which is essential to this work, insists Yves Michaud in the catalogue of the exposition ?Covering the Real? (Kunstmuseum de Bāle, 2005), this technique has the capacity to underline what isn?t going right in the reality and what needs to be interrogated. With the 3199 LM MAASVLAKTE series, photography created this double fabrication of a reality whose function needs to be imagined.