A distant rustle, puffs of air: a swarm forms and rises in the breeze, drawing elegant arabesques in a sky full of shimmering reflections of light. At first, the works of Alain Delorme capture the magic of the first fleeting beauty of a flock of birds, a Murmuration. However, this initial charm soon vanishes when the viewer takes a closer look, notices the clever deception, and discovers what is really behind the graceful flocks, the sometimes aquatic, sometimes calligraphic shapes: thousands of plastic bags, meticulously arranged by the artist, their massive presence threatening to asphyxiate the horizon.
This work is located at the crossroads between various visual cultures and diverse artistic heritage, primarily cinematic: Murmuration seems like an improbable blend of the sight of the plastic bag which in American Beauty (1999) swirls around almost hypnotically, and the vision of The Birds in Hitchcock's great classic from 1963. Both play with the reversal of perspective: the Master of Fear builds his plot on the inexplicable aggression of actually harmless animals, while the scene captured by the amateur filmmaker seems to unveil the beauty and delicacy of an otherwise ungainly object.
More generally, Delorme's digital creations echo land art installations presenting natural spaces that have been physically transformed in order to question their fate and vulnerability. Finally, in this work, Delorme revisits accumulation; a recurrent theme of the New Realists also leveraged in Delorme's previous series- using absurdity to bring attention to the excesses of modern society.
By choosing such a common and universal artifact, the commentary takes on a global relevance. The context of the images is only hinted at, without explicit geographic positioning. The outline of our proud industrial societies, factory chimneys and power lines stand out as shadows playing against a sky that is bathed in a twilight that seems to announce the end of an era. Because the plastic bag poses a truly universal threat: it invades urban surroundings, litters natural habitats, paves seabed, and takes over deserts.
Through this trompe l'oeil, Alain Delorme steps away from any militant position, favoring the process of gradual awareness. He cuts out, assembles and arranges the elements of both a fictional and probable reality into one image that projects the sunsets of our tomorrow. Looking towards the sky, one may recall the title of the famous 1975 photo exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, an exhibit that led us to question the future of industrial society. With this in mind, one could modify the title of the current show to Man-Altered "Sky" scape. When the artist contaminates our dreams?
By Raphaële Bertho, September 2013.