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Premier Oeil

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

Marcel Proust

We open our eyes first in the darkness of the womb, then in the searing light of the world. In waking hours we cycle between ‘seeing’ and momentarily ‘not seeing’, perhaps also closing our eyes for a period of time to reconnect with our self. We open our eyes anew to each new day, repeating every day the ritual of ‘first sight’, the moment when the dark interiority of the self opens to meet the visual world.

Premier L'oeil is a celebration, not only of ‘seeing’ in the liminal time between sleep and waking but also a celebration of the sense itself. As a young man Piel temporarily lost his sight for a period of time, uncertain as to whether he would ever see again.

The work was shot over the period of a year in 2005. The photographer captures the first thing that he sees upon waking; sometimes we are presented with a window, bed linen, a glimpse of the artist’s sleeping wife. There is a continuity to the series of images which begins to articulate a sense of the photographer himself, the series becoming a self portrait in which we as the viewer are invited to look through Piel’s eyes and become familiar with the visual references which anchor him in the world each morning.

Through the use of repetition Premier L'oeil sits in dialogue with the photographer’s earlier body of work in fashion photography. Committed to ideas of youth, beauty and ‘now’ fashion photography consumes models who represent those ideals for a moment. The ideal is static, while the form changes. In Premier Oeil we come to recognise regular forms which exist in the landscape of the project, the regular forms take on a kind of weather, they become nuanced.

These photographs, rather than being moments, are about seeing over a duration of time. They are threshold images, images of the self meeting the visual world each day with new eyes.

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