Our interest in that doomed revolution began with the chance discovery of some compelling, if macabre, photographs of the corpses of dead Communards. Reading around the subject, we started to discover just how contested, historically and politically, were the events of 1871. Even the photographic record is unreliable – barricade images were often posed, scenes of alleged Communard atrocities were staged, and pictures of Paris in ruins served a political agenda.
Steph Goodger became transfixed by the corpse photographs, and began to question their authorship, purpose, the identities of their subjects, and many baffling small details. The intrigue and ever shifting speculations have encouraged Steph to embark upon a series of paintings based on these images, followed by a group of “barricade” paintings, which, by contrast, lack human presence, concentrating on the barricade as a spontaneous architecture of rebellion.
Julian Rowe’s research followed a different trajectory as he investigated the fate of the Tuileries Palace in Paris, which the Communards burned. He discovered many uncanny parallels between the palace and its Berlin equivalent, the Stadtschloss, destroyed in WWII. Remarkably, there are currently campaigns to reconstruct both buildings, successful in the Berlin case, raising questions of identity, meaning and the politics of architecture.
Steph Goodger is a painter who lives and works in Bordeaux, France. Julian Rowe is a Kent-based sculptor, painter and installation artist. They have a mutually supportive working relationship based upon shared areas of interest and research, and they often collaborate on projects while at the same time maintaining their own distinct working practices. Both artists have exhibited widely in the UK and internationally