Christophe Pouget stitches photos together to create a melange of life, showing more of scene than any single photo ever could. His work brings places to life, showing not only the action of the moment, but of many moments, all at once. Check out his interview:
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Christophe Pouget, I am French and I currently live and work in Lyon, France. I started my artistic career in 2008. I was a winner of “Vision of the World”, an international contest organized last year by Emmanuel Fremin Gallery, which now presents my first solo show in New York.
Where have you traveled for your work?
I have traveled in Brazil, United States, France and Europe, and I have the projects to return to Japan and India in 2014.
Where have you traveled recently?
I went 4 days in Essaouira, Morroco, at the end of november. I wanted to do a last assemblage for the January exhibition. This city on the Atlantic coast called the White City is amazing; a magnificent architectural site, an impressive fishing port, a fascinating medina, a very inspiring place for my work.
For your work you piece together many photographs from a single location, how did you think of this idea?
My work of assemblages is born about five years ago of an envy to experiment new visual territories. There are so many talented photographers who have strong and sensitive work that I wanted to find a different and personal writing. A picture represents an instant, it is the characteristic of photography, so through my assemblages, I had the power to capture, to gather several time spaces in a single picture. I am inspired by the photographic work of the painter David Hockney : he was recomposing in the 80’s portraits or life scenes with Polaroids and photos.
How long does it take you to complete a single piece?
When I had collected all my photo-material, it is about 1 month to compose it.
How do you choose the locations that you photograph?
I have to find them patiently, sometimes imagined places are not appropriate.They have to give me a special echo, I need to be like emotionaly connected to the places. When I chose a place, I first look at its position relative to the movement of the sun, to know the path and thus the impact it will have on the architecture or landscape (changing colors, reflections, shadows). Informations I’m trying to capture in order to understand how the place will evolve throughout the day.
How long do you spend at the location?
When I stay for example two weeks in a city, I usually return 4 times a day at the location for about one hour, capturing changes of light, atmosphere and characters. I have started projects two or three years ago but it is places where the architecture evolves and therefore they are not completed. For most cityscapes, time spent taking pictures varies from several days to several weeks even several months, depending on if I’m in a photographic journey or if the place is accessible regularly.
Is there a process that you follow?
Yes, I have set rules and always proceed according to a strict code of ethics and sincerity : I only use my images, never play with filters, I frame and cut them only in squares or rectangles and if It doesn’t match I search another way.
Your photographs lend variability, action and depth, do you think your photographs are closer to conveying the reality, not of a moment, but of the world, of many moments, than a still photograph?
My landscapes are composed with hundreds of pieces of photographs. Taken separately, each photograph shows a fraction of life of the place, they are also one view out of billions. Several time spaces are mixed but everything was real at a moment. I try to capture, the “soul of places” on a defined period of time. Some people told me that when they first faced my pictures, they thought it was a single picture. When approaching, they realize that it is more and they discover all the details of the construction, I was told that it looks like a mix of photography and painting. Concerning the idea of volumes and sincerity, I try to compose my pictures with their own perspectives, lights and characters as a single image.
How would you compare your work to time lapse photography?
Time lapse photography gathers and shows things in an orderly and chronological manner. I think that my work is more abstract, I do not want to make a perfect image. All my pictures are juxtaposed and superimposed suggesting a potential extension of the image beyond the limits.
What have you learned through your work about yourself?
I may be someone like a witness of the time trying to collect the poetry of things.
How has being a photographer challenged you personally? How does it give your life meaning? How does it define you?
I’ve always been very observant and curious about things and people, the practice of photography have accentuated this side of my personality. I think that I need also to be confronted to the unknown, discover and learn by myself how places live, meet and talk to people to understand. Time goes so fast ! Take your time, look around you, consider things and human beings differently.That’s what I’d like to tell to people who live in our cities and no longer take the time to look at the things they face every day and they do not even see… I think that it could give them positive feelings. Art is part of human life. It brings people together and raises emotions that make us feel alive.
How do you approach your Portrait series? What research or analysis do you do of the subject to create a narrative around them?
Usually, I ask the people to choose the location, the atmosphere, the clothes in which I will take the pictures. It is important for me because they decide, they are more relaxed in a place they love. Before starting shooting I ask the subject the way I want him to move, the hands, the body… Generaly slow movement that I can catch them.
I need a period of time between 10 minutes to maximum 1 hour. 10 minutes when I meet people in the street and they don’t have so much time to give me.To the opposite, when it’s a thoughtfull and prepared project, I usually need less than 1 hour to realize the series of images that will allow me to compose the portrait. What I like in portraits is the speed of realization and also the short time to compose them (about 1 or 2 days) comparing to the landscapes.
Who is Pauline? What is she doing? Where is she?
Pauline is a student in fashion I met 2 years ago, during an exhibition I had in trendy Shop. She was training in the shop with 2 other students, and I propose them to make their portraits for the show. She had the idea of the spray paints shop and when I faced her in front of the wall of sprays, I decided to make her as an Indian divinity.
What are you working on now? What is next for you?
Working on the pictures I took in Morocco in november and preparing the January exhibition in New York. I have the projects to return to Japan and India in 2014. I went in those countries a few years ago, before starting my assemblages work. I am also working on photos series on Loneliness and those cultures are very inspiring. I started a collaboration with a new magazine on culture, and I will illustrate portraits of people in my way.
What is your favorite way to travel and why?
My favorite way is to travel by myself, take the flight, the first night, best way to meet people. Sometimes, I choose places where I have friends, photographer is a lonely job and spend some time with friends I see not much is everything I love.