Without comes from a group of images in which the favored display method – in a continuous line on all of the walls of a given space – was chosen to create an insistent rhythm, an allusion to the traditional configuration of beds in hospices, hospitals, homeless and migrant shelters, etc. Viewers, passing this row in review, find themselves in the position of visitors strolling from one bed to another. The beds are empty. Yet every one of them is a powerful evocation of the human body. The sheets bear lasting traces of that presence. Sometimes they are crumpled and stained, or, on the contrary, neatly made up with a care that betrays the importance they have to those men and women for whom this is a last refuge for their privacy. A few objects emphasize that idea of a protective space for particularly fragile people. This is a place where people read, pray, or exist in a body that is being cared for of course, but also through thoughts and memories, as well as hopes clung to with the power of despair. The poetry that emanates from these images is in the realm of the ineffable. It is a poetry both of absence and of regret, of the missed connections between these suffering beings and our own fragility; the flaw or fault line, which, often unexpectedly, reveals the share of humanity in us that makes us fully-fledged human beings. By inviting us to look at these beds, one after the other, in a repeated pattern, Paolo Topy enables us to live the other’s experience through their absence. Circulating amongst these beds, we become attentive to the slightest detail that might express a presence. Imperceptibly, we become attentive to the other. This attention makes each of us the eyewitness to the distress that we too often feign to ignore, awakening our too often sleeping consciences.

Yves Peltier

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