The Day Before, Star System, New York, September 10, 2001 _ 23:59

Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil

Date : 2004

Medium : Photography

Size : 169,7x147,4

 impression jet d'encre

The project The day before_Star system include images of the night sky on the eve of historical events. To achieve this, he uses software that enables him to replicate a constellation at a given time and place. The photographic series, The day before_Star system, is a series of 12 photographic images that represent a map of the sky on the eve of a military bombing. The work shows what the populations of a given place could see on the eve of their death the day before the bombings of Guernica, Dresden, Caen, London, Baghdad, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Sarajevo… and here: New York.
Influenced by the political overtones of Picasso’s Guernica, Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil explores images with a political meaning. The focus of his work is the night sky as it appeared before major events. Using software, he reconstitutes the constellations of a given day and place. The photographic series The day before_Star system features a dozen photographs depicting a map of the stars as they appeared the night before a military bombing. These works depict what the inhabitants of those cities might have seen the night before they died, on the eve of the bombings of Guernica, Dresden, Caen, London, Baghdad, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Sarajevo…and here: New York.

The guide

At first glance, this work appears pitch black, almost monochromatic.
Come closer. Soon you see little white points, bright and scintillating.
Read the sentence that appears at the base of the work:  “The Day Before _ New York _ September 10, 2001 _ 23:59”

Almost midnight, nighttime, darkness… We take a step back as we understand what is before our eyes: a view of the sky above New York, at the exact moment when the
‘dies horribilis’ that was September 11 was about to begin.

Was the artist gifted with premonition to have captured this image at this fateful moment? No, of course not. In 2004 Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil used a computer programme to reconstruct the exact appearance of the sky at specific times and places. Twelve photographs were created by the artist for ‘The Day Before – Star system’ series. It denounces the horror of massive bombings like Guernica, Hiroshima and in this case 11 September 2001 by reconstructing what people could see in the sky before the deadly event.

It’s a work of condemnation, certainly, marked nonetheless by a paradox that gives it unusual force. This is a peaceful photograph, almost romantic in theme. It may remind us of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, then throws into our faces images that are forever inscribed in the collective memory: planes crashing into the Twin Towers.

Beneath the work’s latent violence, does its poetic dimension not bear a foolish hope that perhaps, if we could have read the stars, we might have avoided the horror to come?