Mac Adams
The narrative void
19 06 … 19 09 2010

« Mac Adams, The narrative void » is a chance to present a broad retrospective of Mac Adams’ work along with new pieces that have been specially made in collaboration with the museum.

The desire to see and the unease at having seen

Mac Adams is a storyteller/photographer who has lived in the United States since 1967 but who likes to claim his taste for storytelling comes from his Welsh roots and the impact literature and cinema had on him.

His work is part of the conceptual trend that developed in the seventies and in particular the Narrative Art movement. However, unlike a number of artists in this movement that often associated images and text, Mac Adams uses only photography to tell stories inspired by thrillers. The spectator’s comprehension comes from the various clues the artist places in his scenes; in the Mysteries series that dates from 1974 based on crime scenes, the story is never fully told; we see only flashes, images from one or two moments in the narrative which encourage the spectator to mentally reconstitute the action. The spectator thus finds himself free to interpret, bringing his own subconscious personal projections to bear...

« Mac Adams’ work is a skilful diversion from the presuppositions of the modern image. He combines and adjusts narrative elements extracted from the complex history of the mechanical image. To do so, he convokes the artifice of film noir, the gimmick of the lurid news story, the imagery of horror magazines, etc. Mac Adams enjoys manipulating the principles of the real using photography’s ability to renew narrative forms. There is no object left to look at or contemplate, nothing but a simple image with no aesthetic qualities that blends with a statement, often a very banal one, thus providing the backdrop to all possible experience.»
François Cheval (extract from the catalogue Mac Adams, The narrative void, Le bec en l’air)

The narrative void

Mac Adams’ work tests our perception and underlines to what extent our thought processes are conditioned by stereotypes repeatedly trotted out in thrillers, film or television series. Faced with a number of scenarios, it proves the ambiguity of photography relative to reality, its propensity to manipulate. Appearances can be deceptive as is evident in the series Empty Spaces, Islands  and Parallel Lives .

« I build my narratives by limiting the means. How can I tell a story using two or three images, or a situation based on a minimal number of objects? This is where the narrative void comes into play.
The narrative void comes from cinema; it describes the space that exists between the successive moving images. What interested me is what happens in the space between the images, the space between shapes, in general, and the multiple narratives these spaces evoke, in particular in the very specific context of the mystery. Cognition appears in the void. »
Mac Adams

Publication in tandem with the exhibition:

Mac Adams, The narrative void
Editions Le bec en l’air
Musée Nicéphore Niépce, MUDAM Luxembourg
Text by Mac Adams, Alexandre Quoi (Contemporary art historian, narrative art specialist) and François Cheval (head curator at the musée Nicéphore Niépce de Chalon-sur-Saône).
ISBN: 978-2-916073-63-7
Cost: 19, 50 Euros