Fabien Seguin 

Island 

Island

About the artist

Nature is central to his work. Now based in Canada since 2013, Fabien Seguin photographs natural landscapes. In Eden (2010-2012), a series about Chinese parks, he explored domesticated forms of nature redesigned for recreation, and points to the paradox in our relationship with nature: whether on a walk in the park, a countryside ramble or off skiing in the mountains, every landscape we pass through is never fully untouched – it is always tailored for our contemplation.
This was the year he also embarked on The Vegetation Cycle, which includes Chasma, a black-and-white series depicting a thick, rustling vegetal tangle, and Under the Leaves, a colour series where crawling vegetation seems to be taking over of its own will – the will to go far beyond the ornamental role it was initially assigned. Before that, in Ultima Natura (2008-2009), he questions our relationship to nature and our place within history, through the representation of naked bodies in natural environnements.

Interview

What circumstances took you to China?
I came there in October 2006 after spending two months in India, where I became convinced that expatriation was the right thing for me. I think living abroad for a few years is an experience everyone should consider. It’s important, it’s a question of evolution.
Asia had always attracted me a lot, so after India, China struck me as a logical choice. I had always wanted to learn Chinese. When I got there, I didn’t speak a word, I didn’t understand a thing – and that’s what I was looking for. I was finally free from advertising, televised propaganda, conversations overheard on the street or metro… all of the surrounding verbal interference that always screens you from reality when you live in your own culture.

It’s often difficult to photograph your immediate surroundings, to know how to look at what habit has exhausted. Conversely, as a Westerner living in China, a land of striking contrasts, have you never felt bloated by images to the point where you wouldn’t even know where to look?

I think that living abroad makes it particularly important to master your environment, to get to know it in order to avoid the pitfalls of what I would call the initial exotic element - the temptation to take pictures because they appear unusual. We’ve all taken these kinds of shots, glossy magazines are full of them. But as you gradually blend in with your environment, you avoid falling into that trap, and your work takes on a more universal meaning and scope. I live in China, but my work is not about that country. My presence here is very much down to chance; it’s not really that important.
 
Your image - "The Island" - is emblematic of the visual paradoxes that abound in China. Can you tell us more about this “island” sitting awkwardly among the skyscrapers?

This photo was taken in Chongqing, a city I love because it’s very steep. It’s a good expression of what is happening today in Chinese cities where older buildings, when not simply razed, are gradually surrounded by residential bocks - ever taller and ever more massive.
The sense of insularity is strengthened by the fact that the top of the building forms a kind of garden that contrasts with the concrete block in the background.
In China, this kind of planted rooftop, where people set up makeshift garden shacks or allotments, is quite widespread. Much of China’s urban population is recent, and whenever they can, they like to grow their own vegetables around the building, or on the roof. Another interesting phenomenon is the “green roofs” trend, which has already transformed many a barren rooftop in major U.S. cities, and is also spreading to China, including Chongqing. It’s a new phenomenon that ultimately reflects something the Chinese have never really stopped doing.

In your series Under The Leaves, you shot lush vegetation that seems to be hatching something in silence, and although surrounded by concrete, to exhale a kind of fierce independence. How did you choose these sites?
Under The Leaves is a series entirely shot in parks on Wuhan University campus, near which I was then living. So, geographically, it was quite limited. Shooting took place exclusively on cloudy or rainy days – these were the only times when the vegetation was bathed in a kind of dark, diffuse light: the trees and plants seemed to be really alive, with a true presence, almost ominous and threatening. The vegetation also needed to look like it was human, planted by man, so close to us that it would further accentuate the sense of strangeness and anxiety. All of this would not have been possible if I had chosen a completely natural location, say a forest. That’s why I worked in parks, and chose to include bits of concrete structures, human artefacts in some of the pictures.

Selected shows and awards

Combine 2014, FOFA Gallery, Montreal, Canada, 2014
Into the Void, VAV Gallery, Montreal, Canada, 2013
Young Land, Fenghuang Photo Festival, Fenghuang, China, 2012
A place aside : Artists and Their Partners, Kinsey Institute, IN, USA, 2012
Micro Art, Fine Arts and Literature Art Centre, Wuhan, China, 2012
Humble Arts Group Show 39.2, Humble Arts Foundation, New York, USA, 2011
KL Photo Awards 2011, MAP KL White Box Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2011
Under the Leaves, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, 2010
Face and Figure: A Curated Auction of Self-Portraits, Daniel Cooney Fine Art & iGavel.com, 2010
Ones to watch, ACP (Atlanta Celebrates Photography), Atlanta, 2010
Hulunbuir, Alliance Francaise de Wuhan, Wuhan, 2009
2009 International Exhibition of Fine Art Photography, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, 2009
Festival International de l'Image Environnementale (FIIE), Arles, 2009
Wide Open, Shanghai Studio, Shanghai, 2008
Translucence, Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan, 2008

Selected publications

BOOOOOOOM, 2012
Poncz Magazine blog, 2012
Flakphoto, 2011
Urbanautica (interview), 2011
Flakphoto, 2011
Identity Sucks book, World Identity Lab, 2010
Multimedia Muse, 2010
Polar Inertia, issue 36, 2010
Flakphoto, 2010
Schuberg Philips, 2010
Blindboys (India), 2010
The whishing table, world identity lab, 2010
Da Wuhan magazine, China, 2009

Details

& order

Fabien Seguin 
Island

2009

Technical information

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

Dimensions

64 x 80 cm, Edition of 100 300.00 €
 
Add a frame (artist's choice - for another choice, please contact us)  

Floating frame, natural oakX





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