Frédéric Delangle 

Lost in the Mekong 

Lost in the Mekong

About the artist

Frédéric Delangle went into photography to quench his curiosity: at the age of 15, he felt drawn to a disused swimming pool and used photography as an excuse to explore. For added credibility, he borrowed his dad’s camera. He got in, eventually, and then got caught up in photography. Frédéric Delangle, a curious and adventurous player, gained recognition for his series Nyctalope (2005), Ahmedabad (2005-2006) and Coït (2006). The night - with the fantasies it harbours and nourishes - is central to his work. In Nyctalope, a set of nocturnal landscapes, he walks alone in the woods and shines the spotlight on his fears, possibly to tame and dissipate them. In Ahmedabad, he loses himself in a maze of stories, a city where modernity and past converse furiously by day and subside at night, forming an urban décor: “it’s at night that I travelled back most - when the chaos of modernity stopped, I was able to explore the depths and skeleton of the deserted city.” With Lost, he explores the night once more, this time ganging up with a cheerful group of kids and strange masks to play at inventing other lives.


Who are the masked actors in your scenes?
The actors behind the masks are kids: mine, mostly, but also their friends.
I am a compulsive player, I love games. I play chess every day.
My children and I love to discover new ones: we buy them, or we make them up. Lost is one of those we created.

The pictures are taken at night, in different locations. How did these games start, under what circumstances are they created? Is there a story being played out?
We discovered these masks during a party at a friend’s house and I immediately borrowed them (I’ve still not given them back!). I bought other masks online to complete the set. When we were travelling, we all had to carry our mask with us.
What the kids prefer is when we organize a parent-free stay in a country house, somewhere in the middle of the Poitou forest.

... You talk as if you were one of them ...

I’m the only adult, but I have to behave like a child: not force them to go to bed, eat anything we like, think only of playing. The other parents don’t know what we’re up to: the only constraint is that we have to tidy up before we leave.
It was on these trips that it all started. The children didn’t want to go to bed, so we decided to go for a night walk in the forest with our masks and take weird pictures. I was alone in handling the technical aspects, although they all helped me with the lighting, and we decided on the scenes together. We went to bed very late: sometimes, some of the kids fell asleep on a heap of leaves while the others were still posing.
Later, we travelled to India and Vietnam with our masks. The children would wear them in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowd: it became a game to break the ice.

These images feel very unusual for anyone familiar with your other work. Did you feel the need to embark on a more laidback project, a sort of playtime break?

I suppose you could call this series a break, as it is a moment set aside for children to play. Lost is a personal moment I dedicated to my kids and me to have fun together.
I like being called “childish”: I take it as a compliment, I feel reassured, I stop feeling that I’m growing old. The world of old and serious people is so sad! It’s all so negative. Children project themselves into the future, into imaginary worlds, unlike adults who see the future without invention and with a much darker vision. Politicians are a perfect illustration of what I find depressing and distressing: old, sad, no imagination… I think a stint in a childlike environment would do them a world of good.

Limited edition, numbered and signed. 

Selected shows and awards

France(s) territoire liquide, Tri Postal, Lille, 2014
Apocalypses (Ahmedabad no life last night), Montpellier, France, 2011
Solo show at musée des moulages, Lyon, 2010
Ahmedabad no life last night, Hermès Headquarters, Paris, 2009
The great expectations (Ahmedabad no life last night), European Month of Photography, Luxemburg, 2009
Faire la peau de l'inconscient (Coït), European Month of Photography Dudelange, Luxemburg, 2009
Ahmedabad no life last night, Contemporary Art Center of Baroda, India, 2005
Nyctalope, Maison du Danemark, Paris, 2008

Selected publications

Ahmedabad, éditions Gilles Fage 2006
Coït, éditions Gilles Fage 2008


& order

Frédéric Delangle 
Lost in the Mekong


Technical information

Digital Lambda c-print on satin paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


30 x 40 cm , Edition of 100 220.00 €

By the same artist

Frédéric Delangle

By the same curator