In this image, there are people on a beach.

Everyone has already seen a beach and everyone has already seen people.

I haven’t had this image in front of my eyes for a while. Nevertheless, the white of the water and the tension of the skin resist in their surreal precision.

There is this slice of sand and the light and the languor, and those nearly naked bodies. But the nudity is indifferent to the characters of the picture.

There are some details too: the hand of the little girl on her hip, the knee of a teenager, the armpit of the sleeping man, bellies, the dark swimsuit, some legs, a breast. And a certain gaze of the characters that has no object.

I always feel an endless sympathy for people that are absent to themselves. Happy for the spectacle or the nothing that they are looking at (on this beach that is Croatian just for the title), their nudity vanish. Vanished, it leaves them as if they have been robbed by this image with which the Other covers us whit his look.

My gaze can only double their enigma. Neither Massimo Vitali, nor his characters can tell me what they are looking at. Without any doubt there is nothing to see, no spectacle that would capture their gaze.

Zlatni Rat (Canoe), Croatia 2009.

But, there is no one that has a pure gaze, content with what he/she is watching and with a happy gaze: the watching bodies replace the hypothetic spectacle that they are supposed to see. The image – we can read somewhere – is what I’m excluded from.

And photography is a voyeuristic practice.

Nothing stops the spectator or the photograph from calling upon the sublimation, the visual anthropology or the documentary side of the photographic image in order to defend him/herself from this abrupt conclusion. But, who can deny that we are there to watch?

This image releases us from the danger of the gaze, from the conflict and the spectacle, from the visual tour de force of iconic photography and the ease of minimalism. The image leaves us waiting in front of people that are waiting. Perhaps it’s because the image practice joins here the movement of the unconscious that this image gives me, the endless patience that this rectangle requires, and in this rectangle, this beach.

Yann Tostain, The Surface where Nothing is Reflected, April 2017.