Thomas Hirschhorn: Pixel-Collage

Exhibition at Galerie Crousel, Paris, until 27 February 2016.

January 2016

Blown-up pictures of mutilated bodies in war zones, some parts appearing as a pixellated collage over the original image, are presented in billboard dimensions in Thomas Hirschhorn's exhibition. Titled Pixel-Collage, the show at Galerie Crousel in Paris confronts us with extreme violence while concealing certain pieces of photographic information, just as the faces of children are pixellated by the media. Hirschhorn offers a new kind of layered, collaged picture, which is covered by a plastic sheet that serves a form of protection.

It's easy to discern that the images have been downloaded from the internet. In an accompanying four-page-long text that he wrote in 2012, Hirschhorn explains that they were taken by witnesses, passers-by, soldiers, security and police officers, rescuers and first-aid workers. While the location of the scene – whether Gaza, Syria or elsewhere – remains unidentifiable, the images seem all too familiar. Indeed, Hirschhorn describes them as being “redundant”, due to the “vast amount of images of destroyed human bodies [that] exists today”. However, as the artist points out, such images are often either not published in mainstream media or are pixellated as a form of self-censorship and to mask the identity of the victims. By enlarging the images, Hirschhorn interrogates this decision-making, making us look at deconstructed, violent images that appear on the same scale as advertising for luxury goods. Once or twice, a beauty product is even included in the picture, alluding to the juxtaposition of hard news and luxury advertising in newspapers.

Hirschhorn, who represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 2011, is known for critiquing and reinterpreting information technology and the media in his work. His appropriation and distortion of internet downloads, and the use of collage, results in plastic-protected works that can also be seen as sculptural objects.