From the post-war period until the beginning of the 1980s, France’s reconstruction was marked by a singular economic, technical and social modernization. The French model is gradually being built through planning and public service. While the political emergency is for mass rehousing, major works are emerging with the deployment of motorway and rail infrastructure. Gradually, the territorial, technical and administrative network ensures the connection to the countryside and triggers the national development of major tourist plans. Near the sea or in the mountains, in the countryside or in the cities, in the steel basins or in the beginnings of the first commercial zones, everywhere we speak of progress. At that time again, the urban and architectural typologies resulting from the political alteration of the French landscape gave the local scale a very particular resonance in the national horizon. Utopias are in full swing and France puts itself into images : the suburban house, the country house, the supermarket, the bistro, the building made of concrete, the seaside resort and the ski station. And the sea too, which we are now also seeing for the first time. Since the neo-liberal turn that took place in France forty years ago, utopias have gradually sedimented until they are forgotten and extracted from reality. Everywhere in the new French landscape (which has become quasi-typological as the outskirts of towns and the countryside tend to homogenize) all that remains of the tools deployed in the post-war period are infrastructures and architectures disembodied of any political substance. Faire France de tout bois is to reaffirm concrete utopias through the archeology of ideas and construction. It is to start from the stories specific to French geographies and extract their common fragility. Here and there, behind this ordinary which has stood the test of time hides the possibility of a radical bifurcation and a political re-apprehension.
Born in 1993 in Nancy, Thomas Causin is a French architect and photographer, working in Geneva. For the past seven years, he has explored landscape photography between documentary approach and desire for fiction, questioning the repetition, iteration and variation of landscape identity in the digital age. Graduated from the National School of Architecture in Strasbourg in 2018, his diploma project focuses on the potential future of agricultural territories south of Shanghai, questioning more broadly the place of the countryside in the face of the metropolization process. Focusing on a world without scale, formed by deregulation and homogenization, his artistic practice connects, before any shooting, to the immediate political. Between neorealist geometry and fictional musing, his images appropriate the end-of-the-world features of the apparent dislocation of bodies, spaces and identities, in order to consider a form of repair. A repair that mainly involves the exploration of a hyperreality, an association of images that are both reminiscent and emerging from what constitutes a limit : between rurality and urbanity, countryside and metropolis, nature and culture.
© text and pictures by Thomas Causin