Christophe Maout 

Sans titre , Le Printemps 

Sans titre

About the artist

Christophe Maout lives and works in Paris. In recent years, in addition to his editorial work for the press (Libération, Le Monde, Télérama), the photographer has been developing a body of work focusing on the city. Homelux (2006) explored peripheral urban areas to create a new vision of what we perceive - or no longer do – in the “monuments” constituted by high-rise buildings along the Paris ring-road. High-rise estates also feature in his series Le Printemps (2005), in which he takes an unusual viewpoint: the vegetal presence around them, from flower beds to cherry tree branches. In his series Totems (2009) - a collection of electric poles turned vegetal pillars, with almost anthropomorphic shapes - he further pursued his quest for “re-poeticized” urban spaces.

Interview

In Homelux, high-rise blocks - concrete carcasses with light running through them – are no longer awe-inspiring structures; shot at night, from a vantage point inaccessible to passers-by, they take on a form of weightlessness one would never have suspected. Could you tell us more about how you went about shooting them?
Architecture conditions the way we see our environment. Viewing it from low down on the ground or from the top of a high-rise is not merely a change of perspective on the ordinary: it theatricalizes and transforms. I needed to find a resident in one of the buildings nearby who would let me use a window in his apartment, or give me access to the roof. As I did the shooting at night, in areas that were sometimes quite dodgy, it took some time to obtain the necessary authorizations. From a high vantage point, tower blocks no longer seem overwhelming or impersonal: their social context is revealed, their interiors appear, life surges from the inanimate mass.

In Le Printemps, again, the perspective is reversed. What is usually seen as a mostly secondary decor comes to the fore. How did you correlate the plant world and architecture?
The starting point for me has always been architecture. I’m interested in buildings that develop visual potential once they have been thrown into the blur of photography. Nature is never far away - “green spaces” are an invention typical of this kind of architecture, their purpose is to make life bearable or, at least, possible, making the two inseparable. I actually discussed this with a botanist who told me that certain plant species featured alongside buildings I had photographed were in fact created around the same time as the buildings themselves.

It’s often difficult to take a fresh look at things you can hardly see anymore. You have chosen to photograph Paris, your home city, a subject you are familiar with – is this a stimulating factor for you as a photographer? How do you roam the streets of Paris?
Unlike photojournalists, I never seek to shoot the “hot topic”, the most powerful, evident image out there that needs to be treated. Quite the opposite, I’m interested in transparent things; my work revolves around the idea of defamiliarization, or paying attention to what has become obscured by habit. Many say that Paris is an un-photographable city because it’s been photographed too much already; this poses the problem of the subject, of its interest, of the documentary power photography cannot avoid. I was invited to shoot the spring in Tokyo and New York, but that wouldn’t bring anything to my idea of transformation – it might be entertaining, but that’s not what my work is about. If I were to take an interest in these cities, it would be for historical, political or social reasons. When scouting, I look for the specific arrangements of architectural types and urban organizations prevalent in every Western city. This is both precise enough and sufficiently undefined to leave room for surprise, the sudden shocks that can never be planned in advance and are the subject of my research.

Limited edition, numbered and signed.

Selected shows and awards

Le Printemps, Artligue, Paris, France, Mach/May 2013
Terra Cognita, Photofestival, Groningue, The Netherlands, September/October 2012
Tbilisi Photo Festival, Tbilisi, Géorgia, June 2012
Printemps et Homelux, Artligue, Paris, France, 2012
Le Printemps, Danziger Project Gallery, New York, USA, 2009
Real Photography Award, nomination, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2008
International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyeres, Photography Competition shortlist, 2007
Terrains d'Entente, Rencontres d’Arles, France, 2007

Selected publications

Details

& order

Christophe Maout 
Sans titre , Le Printemps

2006

Technical information

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

Dimensions

40 x 31 cm, Edition of 100 250.00 €
 
Add a frame (artist's choice - for another choice, please contact us)  

Shadowbox, white wooden frame, glassX





By the same artist

Christophe Maout


By the same curator

ART LIGUE, Spring 2013