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opus incertum
Daniel Wagener: "opus incertum"
Exhibition view at the Chapelle de la Charité, Arles © Armand Quetsch / CNA

Daniel Wagener »

opus incertum

Luxembourg Photography Award 2023

Exhibition: 24 Feb – 16 Jun 2024

Sat 24 Feb 11:00

CNA Centre national de l'audiovisuel

1b, rue du Centenaire
3475 Dudelange



Wed-Sun 12-18

opus incertum
opus incertum, 2022 © Daniel Wagener

Daniel Wagener
"opus incertum"
Luxembourg Photography Award 2023

Exhibition: 24 February – 16 June 2024
Opening: Saturday, 24 February, 11 am

Exhibition organized in collaboration with Lët’z Arles a.s.b.l.

"Opus incertum" – a term borrowed from Roman masonry, which consists of building walls from small blocks, broken tiles, and a variety of bricks - is an in-situ installation created by Daniel Wagener in response to the call from Lët'z Arles for the 2023 edition of the Rencontres internationales de la photographie, in Arles' iconic Chapelle de la Charité.

The artist was confronted with a religious building, a place of worship steeped in memory, history, religious iconography, baroque workmanship, gold, stucco, fake and real marble, and symbols. He chose to react through extreme contrast and built a system of prefabricated shelves, industrial racks, crossing the main nave from left to right, filled with images of contemporary "construction sites", urban views, traces of buildings from the past and present. This modular unit for storing images obstructed the view of the altar and, by replacing the object of worship, became the artistic interface of a new cult of consumption. Through his exhibition the artist questions the nature of the icon in our contemporary society and encourages us to reflect on the place of the spiritual and its intersection with the material.

Invited by the CNA/Pomhouse for the now traditional return of the arlesian exhibitions to Luxembourg, making the work accessible to the Luxembourg public who did not have the opportunity to visit Arles, the question arose of how to install opus incertum in this new setting. The easy copy-and-paste solution was quickly abandoned. A new in-situ installation was conceived, with the generous support of the CNA, enabling us to rethink the scenography and produce new images.

Once again, we find ourselves in an emblematic location, a kind of industrial chapel without the altar and central nave, but equally rich in memory and history. In order to take full advantage of the fierce beauty of this hall, we opted for an installation of two industrial racks with a sort of factory gate in the middle, opening onto an image symbolizing a future that is either uncertain, joyful or troubling, and entirely in keeping with the artist's highly surrealist sense of humor.

opus incertum
opus incertum, 2022 © Daniel Wagener

Daniel Wagener's questions, posed through the medium of his images taken on a daily basis throughout the cities and countries he visits, remain topical and prompt reflection on our consumption habits, our treatment of nature, the layout of our cities and our urban visions.

"Opus incertum" is also a tribute to the collective work and commitment of those who form society during the construction process, who ensure the transmission of methods and culture, and practice oral exchange in an exemplary show of solidarity, while remaining invisible. This element of the worker, absent as a human figure and yet very much present as an invisible actor - building and destroying - is particularly moving in this hall, this mecca of steel production in Luxembourg which now lies empty of all its contents, once so essential to the city and the country. opus incertum portrays a new reality, seeks to document episodes of urban construction, uncovers what lies behind the ostentation, reveals what is no longer seen.

It's the photographer's perspective, his framing, his sense of color that animate our perception. We see because he has seen. And we see what he wants us to see. His shots, seemingly neutral in appearance, lead us to reflect on our contemporaneity and evaluate it.

It’s a photography installation that promotes functional and pragmatic aesthetics. With an undeniable touch of humour, the artist invites the visitor to move these new icons – installed on warehouse trolleys – around the site, and to participate in the building work. He succeeds in creating a sublimation, an idealization of the functional.

Curated by Danielle Igniti

opus incertum
opus incertum, 2022 © Daniel Wagener
opus incertum
opus incertum, 2022 © Daniel Wagener