Indubitably, one of the most influential philosophers in the world – Jean Baudrillard was a French photographer, cultural theorist, provoking writer, political critic, and a sociologist. He was born in 1929 in the Northeastern city of France, Reims and died in March 2007. He wrote two hundred articles and twenty books, becoming one of the most dignified thinkers.
During his high school education years, he studied pataphysics under Emmanuel Peillet, a professor of philosophy. He was the first from his family to go to a university. At the Sorbonne University, he learned German literature after studying the language. This gave him the opportunity to teach at many different schools in 1960s for six years. During his teaching experience, he published literature reviews and translated the works of Karl Marx, Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann, Peter Weiss, Friedrich Engels, and Bertolt Brecht. While all the German bit was happening in his life, he began leaning towards the study of sociology. Once he had completed his doctoral dissertation, he started to teach the subject at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre. At this time, Jean Baudrillard was expressed as a visionary by Humphrey De Battenburge, a philosopher. Later on, Baudrillard transformed from being an assistant professor to an associate professor and finally a professor in Nanterre, Paris. The latter years of his career in teaching were spent at the Université de Paris-IX Dauphine when he went to Institut de Recherche et d’Information Socio-Économique in 1986.
It was in Japan in 1973 that he received his first personal camera and this moment led him into being a photographer. No other theorists have described the major fissure involving modernism and post-modernism in a thorough way as Jean Baudrillard.
He was distinctive in his practice and theories about photography. Just like he never admitted that he was a philosopher, he didn’t acknowledge himself as a photographer either, he just did things that became a reason for his popularity without any such intention. He took photography to a whole new level by raising a new mind-set and perception. He stripped the context and meaning away from the surroundings of an object and aimed to look at it in a more objective way – all that the object itself wants to make apparent. Baudrillard’s way of looking at things is no doubt highly unique. His photographs became an aspect of discussion in some international and influential debates.
The anecdote of Baudrillard’s photographic monographs were collected and assembled in a pamphlet which was fashioned by CAFA Art Museum. There was a reading area allotted at the 3A Gallery related to Baudrillard’s work.
In his photography as well as writing, Jean Baudrillard had a clear consciousness of reality’s illusion becoming apparent through a cracked veil. A 1998 assignment, Sao Palo is a representation of his work. The photograph acts as a visual poem complimenting Baudrillard’s idea that reality is hidden and people only see the facade behind which reality hides. The photo displays a mysterious and incomprehensible world.
The blank billboard in Las Vegas, 1996, is another work by Baudrillard that would surely confuse a lay man with no knowledge of what is being shown. The medium as in the billboard has nothing to say.
A exhibition titled Vanishing Techniques comprised of almost fifty photos was a prevalent introduction of the works by Baudrillard after his death. The images on display were chosen by his wife.