From 1946 to 1966, Duchamp worked secretly to an installation entitled Étant donnés, an image of a naked woman lying with her legs widely spread holding a gas lamp, visible only through a pair of peep holes, one for each eye, in a wooden door. That holed wooden door, among others, was a voyeuristic device that changed the way of looking at the image, enriching the object of art and desire with a self-reflexive, strongly narrative, layer.
Thomas Vandenberghe’s last book shares quite an affinity with this way of seeing, challenging, at its turn, the way of browsing a photobook. Revisiting the French-folded appeal of his previous Can’t pay you to disappear, here Vandenberghe leaves the pages totally blank and literally hides his cold love story inside the folds, proposing a scenario à rébours, pushed on the verge of the white page amnesia. The project was taken in Bangkok in January 2016 – during the three-week trip with AM Projects, while preparing the psychedelic 3AM – and documents, as the receipt that ties the whole book might insinuate, a stray love affair.
This alluring photobook is an inspiring voyeuristic tool, inviting to a peeping Tom experience, since the tight folds leave you just a narrow crack to spy through: I wanted to play with an uncomfortable viewing. The pictures inside the folds are not important, but just a vague reminder. The only things that remain are the portrait of the girl and a paper file, the proof of my love affair.
Thomas Vandenberghe’s book has the appeal of a hidden track, a ghost-story that has been printed in such a way as to avoid detection by a casual reader. And while peeking inside its folds, two small prints might pop up. But that’s another pair of holes to peep through when you’ll get it.
a review by Larisa Oancea