Seduction and Power: Cathedrals and Capitalism


 From the series “Seduction” © Cyril Porchet

In his two-part series, “Seduction” and “Meeting”, Cyril Porchet examines the nature of spectacle, comparing Baroque churches to the modern-day corporate shareholder meeting. Porchet created “Seduction” by photographing from the choirs of Baroque churches across Europe. In person, these places feel enormousAnd indeed, Porchet’s prints are giant, 1.2 m x 1.6 m, allowing the viewer to fall into the details almost as if they were present at the churches themselves. But Porchet’s works are not mere re-creations. His photographs transform these massive spaces into a series of flat, but still nearly infinite, displays of extravagance. Although these churches, as physical structures, took decades to build and remain with us today, they were also spectacles, designed to elicit a much more immediately felt sense of wonder and piety.


From the series “Meeting” © Cyril Porchet


In “Meeting”, Porchet shows one modern-day analogue to the religious altar: the stage at corporate shareholder meetings. These constructed stages are similarly enormous and the projection screens dwarf the endless rows of chairs in front of them. But the photographs contain neither a single CEO nor one shareholder. The series hints that these meetings are completely ephemeral, gone by the following day. As with Sugimoto’s photographs of cinema screens (an inspiration that the artist readily acknowledges), we sense the ephemerality in all of today’s spectacles, even when originating from some of the most powerful companies in the world.

Cyril Porchet’s work is, at once, sensually overwhelming, visually spectacular, and philosophically thought-provoking.

See the full slideshow and read his excellent accompanying text at LensCulture.

—Alexander Strecker

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