Paul Knight: L’ombre de ton ombre
⬤ Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) 7 Oct - 9 Dec 2023
Viewer advice: This review explores themes of sexual intimacy. It contains adult content including nudity and sexually explicit images and language. Viewer discretion is advised.
The title of Paul Knight’s exhibition at MUMA draws on a line from the song “Ne me quitte pas” (1959), where Jacques Brel describes his love for a woman as so vast and full of pathos, he would become the shadow of her shadow. The line creates an image, at once melancholic and romantic, of a will to inseparability, and of two bodies dematerialised and forever fettered by love. “Il faut tout oublier” (You/We have to forget everything), Brel cries elsewhere in the song, in a line which might reflect remorse, but also clarifies how, through love, he and the other have become so absolutely singular.
This image of love-fettered shadows and singularity seems, in the context of an exhibition of work by an artist best known for photographs, highly photographic; it touches on the characterisation, which was there at its birth, of photography as an art of fixing shadows. One of the medium’s pioneers, Henry Fox Talbot, claimed that shadows, “the most transitory of things,” could be “fettered” by photography. In its title and its form, L’ombre de ton ombre lays open a complex network of bodies, shadows and photography, all laminated by love.