How did your eyes fall upon these little boxes?
I found these little boxes in the corner of a shed; they seemed to have been asleep there for a long time. It was love at first sight: I felt like a kid accidentally discovering hidden sweets.
These small, battered, slightly wonky shapes emanated something deeply moving. I instantly thought of Giorgio Morandi, an artist I greatly admire, but mostly I said to myself: “my goodness, this is going to be great fun…!”
The boxes all sit there together. There is harmony, balance, perhaps even solidarity of form created between them. How did you assemble them? Tell us about these two compositions.
That’s right, they are huddled together. For reassurance? To keep warm? Who knows...? They’re most probably modest and shy.
I started to experiment with several compositions, against different backgrounds. Usually, as I work with film, it takes quite a while. The advantage is that the constant shuttling between shooting and dark room gives you plenty of time to think…
The first results were excessively anecdotal and laborious still lives. A little too “Morandian”, probably.
Gradually, a very basic backdrop - two wooden planks painted white - emerged as the best option. And then, a fair amount of empty space around the subject, to create silence. A shadow. And within this shaded area, the little boxes (and in one of the two compositions, a little countersink too) stuck together in a compact form: a strangely impregnable citadel in which a form of harmony prevails. And perhaps also nostalgia.Your work focuses on images of objects which have modesty in common: abandoned little cardboard boxes, worn-out mops, frayed plastic sheeting. Is this a way for you to push aside the issue of the subject’s representation in order to concentrate on the central aspect of the work, the very essence of photography - light and the power of light?
You’re absolutely right. The truth is that I find photography excruciatingly boring, with a few exceptions. Not enough mystery, desperately flat, much too closely linked to the subject. Unfortunately, in photography, “what” is always more important than “how”.
Taking pictures has become extremely easy, and as the world has no lack of subjects, things aren’t getting any better. We’re literally being force-fed.
To me, the subject is merely a starting point, a pretext. Hence perhaps the fact that I always choose “poor” materials, as if selecting raw materials to transform them, through a development process, into finished products where every detail counts. And as I’m not a painter or sculptor, but a photographer, I use light to work on them. Light, nothing else. No image doctoring either. Never.
I enjoy simple, almost hand-crafted research: exploring off the beaten track leads to unexpected encounters and discoveries.
I’m very happy when, by twisting photography’s arm a bit, I manage to upset the rules and loosen its constitutive rigidity: it’s a way for me to force it to reveal another side of reality, one that never appears at first. Its magical side.
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