ANTOINE D’AGATA: “Empty Shell Walking” (2009)

By Doug Rickard, for ASX, March 2009

It would seem that Antoine D’Agata is an empty shell walking, a living thing yes, a tortured adventuring heartbeat, yes… perhaps a sort of hybrid man-beast animal behind glass… one that seeks, that follows its urges and never finds satisfaction. The taste for more is potent, the drive inside is ongoing, he keeps going to find more. The vice appears to own him, the urge appearing to torment him, but fullness never comes, only flavored food, feeding him for a moment and then quickly the taste fades… the empty always wins. At times, he thinks that he has found something to satisfy for good and then once it is in the mouth, it quickly becomes nothing… just ashes evaporating memory.

And just what does this empty, driven, prostitute fueled-livin evaporating taste look like? If you step into an inferno, if you willingly give up the foundations and step off the cliff, into the vortex… if you seek something that will never satisfy, if you f-k to spite love, if you feed your demons and spin without control, when you have nothing to fill you up… when you live inside of the drug, what does that look like? From outside in, from inside out, twist together the inside and make it the out… morph the empty into something palpable, mix in the shell of the man… the flesh of the used… wrap it in a cloak of love-lessness and self inflicted psychological wounds… give your inferno the fuel that it needs to keep burning you alive, to keep sucking you in… then step back and look at the page. This is Antoine and his beautiful photographs.

Look at the muck, at the tar… at the black, at the ash, at the junk in his head… I think that I can see inside of his mind, but I can’t… I can only see the evidence, I can only see the art. I can see the mind as a print, as a pixel. Does the work reflect the man? Does the man reflect the work? Does the man serve as a symbol for the work or does the work serve as a symbol for the man? Who is leading who? Who tells the truth, who is the liar? Either way, it is beautiful. The art… some ticket to ride, in the hands of a man like Antoine, beauty cannot help but come.

Is it a pit of pain or is it bliss? In this darkness of a man who has embraced his urges, who chooses the “wrong” path, in a man that has given himself over to his drives and let himself go, can he find peace? Beauty has somehow come, a beauty from the black, power in the putrid, flesh as a flower, perhaps even a dead little flower still seeking the light – not yet gone, but decaying.

As human beings, we can relish in the gift that is art. Oh how we can treasure this ability to enjoy the pit of the empty or the apparent joy of a temporarily fulfilled heart.


ASX CHANNEL: Antoine D’Agata

All images © copyright the photographer and/or publisher.

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