''The continents float on an endless ocean which somehow has a layer of rock and fire underneath it. Earth is a disc under a glass dome and the lands we know are surrounded by an infinite wilderness of ice and snow, beyond the Antarctic ocean, bordered by a 150-foot-tall circular ice-cliff. What we call the North Pole is at the center of the earth. Sun and moon are spheres that move in circles above the plane of the Earth. Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different portions of the planet in a 24-hour cycle and allow us to see the firmament during the night.''
Originally, Earth not a Globe is the title of a book written by Samuel Birley Rowbotham, the founding account of the theory that the earth is flat and not spherical. It was first published in the late 19th century and has since gathered a large community of followers whose views are being spread virally nowadays. In this hybrid project, Philippe Braquenier plunges into the heart of the discursive mechanisms of conspiracy theories. He proposes to pinpoint a series of flat-earthers’ statements and to go through them with a fine-tooth comb with his creative and singular experience. To do so, he seizes the methods used by Rowbotham’s disciples and tries to demonstrate the same empirical experiences through images. By dint of manipulation, fragmentation, distortion and montage, he comes to make his own exhibits.
Stripped of their context and accompanied by concise legends, each of them could make us doubt about the rotation of the earth or the existence of gravity. Except that the author makes visible the marks of his plastic interventions, as so many clues of his work process. By combining the codes of documentary photography and asserted subjectivity, the author seems to be taking a resolutely reflexive path on his work. He questions the automatisms and stereotypes that inform his eye and, at the same time, ours. Consequently, the whole work questions both the conspiratorial rhetoric and, more broadly, our relationship to the image.
In the era of post-truth and globalized information, his work advises us to have a critical reflection on the conspiratorial power of images.
Words by Marie Papazoglou