Valerie Jouve is a young photographer deeply interested in the question of the individual’s place in today’s urban space, which is dominated by anonymous industrial architecture, sprawling housing projects, and the increasing demands of contemporary life. Her practice is influenced by the legacy of conceptual art of the last several decades as well as the complicated urban-planning debates and history of her native France.
Like Sans Titre No. 20 (Untitled No. 20), Jouve’s images often show the human figure isolated within an urban space. Despite the seeming spontaneity of this image of a woman with head thrown back in joyous laughter, this photograph is completely staged and directed by the artist. The blandness of the architectural surroundings contrasts with the visual details that enliven Jouve’s photograph, such as the woman’s patterned blouse. Her images often position life-size figures interacting with the vastness of the urban landscape; viewers are invited to complete the character study with the missing details.
The Walker’s acquisition of this photograph adds to a growing concentration of work by contemporary conceptual photographers in the collection such as Sharon Lockhart, Thomas Demand, and Anna Gaskell.