Armand Quetsch EN


Images : Armand Quetsch


A letter to my friend.

Now that your project reaches its end I wanted to write these few words down to conclude it in my own way. Well… not really conclude it.

If I do recall correctly, your initial aim was to reach Lampedusa from Brussels. Drawing a line from the North to the South. You wanted to take the migration path in reverse. But not in a journalistic purpose. You were interested in the landscapes. You have almost travelled all the way alone. The essential part, I think. I’ve accompanied you a few times on the long and old roads you have taken. Plotted in various sceneries, these are reaching places you wanted to see. 

These places are very often politically labelled. These are recognizable. These are historically registered. These have in common a path which landmarks were places touched by some kind of violence, crisis, fall or dystopia. From Obersalzberg you went down to see Sarajevo, and then Athens. Starting from Brussels and passing through Switzerland you also went to Lampedusa. You’ve pictured Dresden and Zagreb, Belgrade and Reggio Calabra ; a wandering between selected crossing points. 

You’ve achieved this work with discipline and consistency during its development. Always your own little ritual to prepare the shooting, always a checking of a range of technical aspects related to the slow working photographer.

This slowness leads you during the elaboration of your projects. It lets things happen. It initiates a long lapse of time of observation to finally give you the opportunity to capture what comes to you in your frame. You master this slowness. Despite your books of german philosophy, your few bibles on New Topographics, and your recent magazines about geopolitics. 

Your pictures are the patterns of a real word but still outlined by your gaze. Your compositions are organized by your precision of framing nevertheless their total absence of notifications. However, several clues are sprinkled here and there. In this work, there is no presention, no intention to designate or to tell us something. This pretentious and narcissistic eager to tell, so common nowadays. No claims in your images, only the subjectivity you suggest and present to us. On the other hand, I’ve really appreciated the physical and mental innocence appended on the treaded places.  

Although we’ve been talking for hours about all these questions on the person, the peoples, their subjection, about history, freedom, a necessary fraternity and this fucking need of anarchy. With these words of Ferré always carved in my mind . « Sweet anarchy, lovely anarchy, you’re neither a party, a system or a reference but the only invention of the man for struggling with its despair. You’re the oat of the poet. » 

Convinced of exploring a Balkan western in tongs and singlet, I’ve catched up with you one morning of April in Montenegro. The next dawn, we’ve drank small shots of a white alcool surrounded with an as-white landscape. That was your journey. I felt then that you were being taken away in those territories. Your desire was to experience, and not only to spot these almost commonly named places. « L’Europe » - from Brigitte Fontaine and Bertrand Cantat - as a travel mantra is furthermore not mundane at all. « We currently work for Europe, and maybe for the World »…

Things tend to be universally flushed in a swirling. You draw the profile of an endless screw. Your book is definitely dark and quite cold, and somehow, it finally closes itself as an offering of possible to come up. You gave me and you give for your reinvented landscapes some news places of hope. 

I love your work, I love these sceneries you went through, I love the people living in there, I love the incoming days, I love anarchy, and I love you. « Twice ».


(Letter from François Goffin to Armand Quetsch)


After graduating in 2004, Armand Quetsch focuses one year on the collective effort of the Projet BXL during a residency at the Espace Photographique Contretype. With three other photographers, he investigates the notion of territory, the capacity of the photographic medium to transmit a pertinent image of a complex structure such as a city and how the interaction of images affect the lecture of the work by the visitor.

For over ten years now, his artistic output evolves around the notion of territory, including the socio-political issues that shape these, and the construction/transmission of ideas and sense in the photographic medium, primarily the often premised link between reality and the photographic image and the delusion of narrative.

The following series Nickla, produced and published with the support of the CNA Dudelange, is the attempt to give the viewer the opportunity to read into the personality of Nickla Quetsch – the grand uncle who is no longer able to live on his own - by depicting precisely what remained in the house in Krewinkel, from small detail like the wallpaper to the frequently returning cross or the empty wardrobe. The series is precise documentation that aims to give an insight into a specific person’s history through the use of the photographic image.

After this evans-like approach of the medium, the conception of the photographic medium as a tool of direct communication, objective transmission of reality and truth is radically questioned by the series published in the book ephemera. The work, composed by images that are not revealing their origin, nor their aim, is a puzzling and intense essay in the form of a photo book. Edited out of a large accumulation of photographs, realized in and around the most intimate and personal family circle and charged with non communicated connotations and context, the reader is confronted to an unsettling choreography of images that does not function as illustration, but as an evocative allusion. A form of use of photography that Paolo Bianchi describes as associative form of photography, fragmentary and undetermined, it is the obligation of a self-referenced reading and the exclusion of the prefabricated narrative.

This posture, in an even emphasized form, is the formal structure on which the latest work of Armand Quetsch is organized. For the series Dystopian Circles / Fragments..all along, he travelled several years around Europe and mainly photographed landscapes. From Brussels to Athens, from Lampedusa to Nordhausen, known for the KZ Mittelbau-Dora, he aims his camera at places linked to violence and crisis. The images, for example, show the fort of Srebrenica, the mediteranian sea seen from Lampedusa, the Heysel Stadium, a rundown shed in Sapri – a small town where the Italian anarchist Pisacane landed with his liberated prisoners and was later stabbed. Again, the images are all without title and the confrontation with the work, may it be in a show or in the upcoming book, remains a non-narrative experience and establishes a complex, intricate and distorted visual structure that triggers a process of creative, participative reading.