I have always been keenly aware of the fact that all things in life are temporary. I wanted to explore this truth using an experiment with light and reflection which addresses a specific law of physics that I had accidentally come across years ago. Through this series entitled "The Unavoidable Temporality of Existence", my aim was to show how, in our mind, fragility is associated with the notion of temporality and strength with the notion of eternity. Fragile or strong, no matter what, there is an end to everything.
I created ephemeral sculptures made of extremely delicate elements that I then photographed utilizing one of the most important characteristics of photography – the ability to freeze time. This quality, specific to the medium, allows the transformation of things from the ephemeral state into a more “permanent” one.
To elaborate these sculptures, large silver foil sheets were crunched in such a way that they would create imposing structures with interesting abstract shapes. For the “application” of vibrant colors onto that foil, I did not want to use paint or project lights of color, nor did I want to use digital manipulations in post-production. I aimed instead to use a natural physical reaction to light. Light is the very essence of photography (especially in analog photography*). The etymology of the word photography derives from the Greek, which means drawing with light.
As the vulnerability of the foil disappeared under the colors, these sculptures subsequently became sturdy-looking. Nevertheless, as they had been generated with light reflections, they were indeed ephemeral. Creating something fragile and evanescent that couldn’t be repeated twice was exactly what I was looking for. As I was seduced by the amazing combinations of colors and shapes, I froze each moment with my camera and made these creations permanent.
To emphasize the balance between the strong and delicate aspects of these sculptures, I used butterflies which are universally seen as the essence of fragility and temporality. Growing up in the South of France, they had been a big part of my childhood. They always intrigued me, with their magical way to suddenly appear and disappear. In most cultures, they are a positive symbol and often represent the human soul. Their lifespan is relatively short but, in contrast, scientists have asserted that when the human species is no longer around, they will remain alive for millions of years to come. With the combination of all these unusual connotations, they are the perfect element to express the feeling of temporality of existence for this project. Their presence translates the notions of movement and lightness, which are essential to the making of these photographs. They also brought some calm and spirituality to these sculptures that I describe as "load and chaotic symphonies of colors and shapes".
During the photo-sessions, it was surprising to realize that my fragile and ephemeral large-scale sculptures would somehow recall works by artists such as John Chamberlain, Arman or César, whose pieces had contrarily necessitated heavy-duty metal work. Nevertheless, all these pieces, no matter how they were conceived - strong or fragile - all gave birth to abstract creations that explore the fascinating duality between strength and fragility, permanence and evanescence.
“Fragments” is the second part of the project “The Unavoidable Temporality of Existence”.
* Analog photography as opposed to digital photography