“Images awaiting fiction. The moment they are contemplated, they engage the imagination, invoke the fable. It is not something that is already there, before our eyes, in the frame. It is something that will happen, in a second, in a moment. And the photo already knows it.”
— Sylvain Prudhomme, Romans (www.inventaire.net)
As I landed on the shores of the Étang de Berre and moved inland, I discovered interlacing landscapes with contrasting characteristics.
I travelled through a fragmented territory where marvellous and protected spaces bordered areas that have been exploited to the point of dilapidation. It is surprising to discover that faced with the perceptible reality of the here and now, it is possible to glimpse the future that has been announced by the climate projections related to global warming. The Étang de Berre territory has all the necessary ingredients for a fiction of anticipation. Is it already tomorrow here?
Thus, as I seek to represent the Étang de Berre, I abstain from a classical pursuit of a perspective, from a vision of landscape that would condense an observed and mastered environment and that would embody an overarching and authoritive politic of the photographic gaze as it is turned toward nature. Today it is a question of trying to describe rather than to tell through photography, of using an arrangement of images to construct a representation founded upon the very relationships that the images nurture, both with their subjects and between themselves.
Geoffroy MATHIEU, born in 1972, graduated from the ENSP national photography school in Arles. He currently lives and works in Marseille.
His work questions the manner in which certain ecological or political issues are manifested in the landscape. By traversing various itineraries, he documents territories in mutation, the friction between city and nature, and the “poetic resistance” that arise through the use of spaces.
In his quest to understand the ways in which our world is inhabited, he explores the capacity of photography to orient his creative productions towards a representation of human places and experiences that disrupt our relationship with the living.
Whether they are the result of commissions from local public authorities, artistic residencies, or his own initiatives, his photographic series are conducted in the form of “poetic investigations”. In other words, the process of surveying the terrain and facilitating the sensitive encounters with reality that give rise to the images is always preceded and enriched by a period of rigorous documentary preparation.
© text and pictures by Geoffroy Mathieu