Les villes invisibles | Invisible Cities
28/03 - 30/05/18

En français | NL versie


© Maud FAIVRE, series Invisible Cities, 2017

The title Invisible Cities refers to the novel by Italo Calvino published in 1972: a collection of traveller’s tales told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan, following the emperor’s request for the foreign merchant to describe China to him. As neither man speaks the other’s language, Marco Polo describes invisible, imaginary cities without resorting to words, but rather by using gestures and sounds, objects, dance and cries.

It’s this use of strong visuals to evoke a city that both interests me and resonates with the idea of archaeology.

I spent a year with archaeologists, accompanying them on diagnostic visits and to digs, and observing the work done in the laboratories of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeology (INRAP). “When they become the objects of an observation, archaeologists and their day-to-day environment are transformed into strange handlers of ‘subjective documents’. Dig sites, laboratories, people, actions, objects unearthed in digs - real material - become enigmas, deploying a powerful imaginary narrative.” *

The connections between photography and archaeology are many and varied, from the act of making a visual record, or observing an imprint, from a trace to its disappearance, and also in the idea of the visible and the invisible: in the same way that a photographer can allow us to see things we cannot, or can no longer, see, an archaeologist can read in remains a history that we cannot see directly.

Images evoke more than they show, they divert objects from their normal meanings. But the “hyper-reality” of photography means that there is a certain point at which the photographed object becomes recognisable again. There is a two-way exchange between the object and its meaning, and the meaning we give it: the imaginary holds an important place in this exhibition, which pushes the audience to build hypotheses based on material remains and visual clues and to connect them to each other, perhaps in the same way as an archaeologist would.

Maud Faivre
Translation: Chris Bourne

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*quote by Alessia Bonannini, Cultural Promotion Manager - Exhibitions, in the Communication and Cultural Development team at INRAP.

The exhibition Les villes invisibles was produced by the Villa Pérochon, Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine and with the help from Inrap.



© Maud FAIVRE, series Invisible Cities, 2017