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The Endorsement by François Cheval

François Cheval
It is with great humility, gratitude, and permission that I present the “Endorsement” by François Cheval, a French photographic exhibition curator.

“Sam Dobrow, away from the market, from contemporary art and its puny concepts, is wary of the ease of large format, and can in no way be suspected of a vulgar use of colour. Bearing a certain moral authority, a real creator, Sam, an artist in the fullest sense of the word, is close to an alchemist, if not a sorcerer’s apprentice. His unimpeachable subject matter places him firmly in the lineage of the greatest. Dobrow, could be satisfied with such an original production.

But, the uncertainty gnaws away at him. For Dobrow it’s not only a question of introducing a new aesthetic, here, at the heart of his work, where the image and the series sow the seeds of doubt on the presuppositions of the photographic act. The stake cannot be limited only to the photographic community, Dobrow gambles on an alternative to the world’s “vulgar” images. Photography for him is a militant act, an unshakeable intention in opposing the show biz society.

Because he was instructed in the tricks of the medium, Dobrow, with great humility, feels able to participate in the necessary reconstruction of the medium. Nothing is beyond question for this peerless experimenter. As a concerned photographer, Dobrow testifies, not just to the state of the world, but to the connection that the image maintains with the autocratic image which is confused with a new commodity. He demonstrates, with surprising maturity and skill, that photography is in a position to rediscover its freedom, to get rid of narcissism, of decoration and blind conformity. He knows how, in particular, to play with the machine and its potential in order to dominate it better.

Sam experiences, image by image, the photographic simulacrum. He discredits the aesthetic mystification and false pictorialist heritage. In banishing the seduction of emotion while founding an aesthetic, Dobrow includes in the latest the critical possibility of the visible and its perception. The question of the restoration of reality doesn’t necessarily call for the confiscation of impressions. Having known early on to get rid of pathos, from now on Sam has at his disposal a useful tool, his desire for distancing himself.

For all these reasons, in the rare search for the viewer’s autonomy of vision led by Dobrow, I support this work, that is so demanding and contrary to the spirit of the times. The show is not the ultimate end of this photography that offers to participate in the emancipation of our eyes. And the final reversal, in this complexity, in this half-light of understanding, when we grope our way forward, this newfound freedom gives us the joy of recognizing ourselves and getting together.

Photography remains an essential gesture, expurgated of its illusions, thanks to Dobrow, photography rediscovers here is its wonderful ability to create a new situation between one self and the other.”

François Cheval
François Cheval is a French photographic exhibition curator. He lives and works in Paris.

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