miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2008

ma photographie est moi

Renaud Monfourny se hizo conocido por retratar personalidades del mundo de las artes, la música, la literatura y el cine. Sus imágenes aparecieron plasmadas en Les inrockuptibles, la mítica revista cultural francesa que fundó en 1986 junto con otros amigos. En agosto visitó Argentina para su primera presentación retrospectiva “Un peu de tout” (un poco de todo) en la galería Appetite, donde mostró sus retratos de celebridades, fotografías de desnudos y paisajes.
Acá, la entrevista que le hice para Wicked Mag.

Tell me about your beginnings in photography... Was there any specific moment when you thought “well, yes, now I’m a photographer”?
It was during adolescence when I become interested in photography, first with my father’s old Voigtlander - because he was going to buy a Nikon - then very soon after with a cheap 6x6 Russian camera, Lubitel. I had to move the film forward by hand and, if I forgot, there was a double exposure. That’s why I have photos of my dog "mélages" with clouds! I registered at a photo-club place where an old man who did not dare to photograph people gave me the virus. One day when I was on my way to school, I passed trough a pathway near the river and I saw a scene that influenced me a lot, the first mental photo of my life! It was a Gypsy woman nursing a baby in front of a wood fire with a wooden caravan behind her, all of it with the fog and the half-light of the dawn. Then, after years of intermittent practice I decided to pursue formal training.
I don’t think I ever said “now I am photographer”, anyway, if that was the case, it was due to the arrogance of youth. Today, I rather not define myself as an artist, I find the word has been degraded, and photographer, extremely degraded!!! In fact, I’m not a photographer in a "commercial" sense; I’m unable to take an object’s photograph in a studio, for example!

As a foundation photographer of “Les Inrockuptibles”, do you think your work at the magazine influenced its aesthetic? and its texts?
In fact, we created it between four or five people where two photographers, a style made of our taste for black and white, our style of photos (and text), some economic pressures and a certain incompetence, made a model. But that time has long passed, today it’s a journal that doesn’t necessarily have something to do with that of 15 or 20 years ago.

Considering that many times you take musicians portraits, how do you manage to go further to reach their cores and create some intimacy?
I take portraits of people, if they are rockers, stars, actors, painters, my children, friends or people I don’t know, it forms a whole for me, it’s the same process. It’s about making the subject feel comfortable, and then it’s up to me to see and capture, not their intimacy - for me a photographic impossibility - but some essence of them. Not necessarily the Essence. But deep inside, I share the Indian belief that the photograph steals a little of the soul. I simply present my models with the exact opposite thing!

There’s a popular proverb that says “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Do you agree with that?
It depends principally on which words and which photos! With the multiplication and sharing of photos, we can see that there exists today a certain form of pornography among modern men, which consists of taking every opportunity to expose oneself: trips, family holidays, parties with friends, etc. These images have no value as photography, but at the same time affirm the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words", and that’s why they replace more than one thousand words to tell what they show. On the other hand, one thousand words of a gifted writer describing a place make an idyllic mental picture of this place which no photo could replace.
This expression is used especially often by the press to talk about reportages, for example, a war photo that reports atrocities more "efficiently" than a written article. Today they contradict one another because the thousand words are sometimes needed to explain the photo! They are used to say that it doesn’t reflect a reality and that it was taken in conditions of lies! The art of propaganda uses photography so often that we have entered in a logic of communication with vital tools like Photoshop and diffusion so that the accuracy or truthfulness of a photograph is no longer a criterion. However, a photo advertising beauty products is not always completely wrong. (www.koreus.com / video / pub-dove-evolution.html). Today propaganda is no longer used for a political ideology but for winning the biggest war of the XX century: capitalism. Under the most abject modern form: ultraliberalism.

Throughout history, on several occasions the media has used photography to manipulate public opinion; do you think that, nowadays, there still remains some illusion of transparency?
It’s worse than an illusion of transparency, it’s a fact acquired by generations of young people: they accept, for example, the fascist ideology spread by video clips of today's rap - money, prostitution and subjected woman, the famous bling bling - without rejecting the picture. Today, the image just burdens my spirit...they make the image of a brand, of a politician, of a detergent, of a piece of music, etc. That’s why I make a very important differentiation between photographs and images. And I have a personal title for photographs I take: “writings with light”.
I don't make anybody's image. At the worst, I make mine, if we take the saying of a famous photographer who said that "in taking pictures of others, we never cease taking pictures of ourselves."

Do you think photography reproduces reality or recreates it, as a simulacrum?
Neither reproduction nor simulacra, personally speaking. But simulacra are the clichés of contemporary photographers who denounce, for example, the society of consumerism by taking some staged photos in a giant supermarket, blowing them up, and then selling them at a very high price. Who are they making fun of? I think the people who work in the supermarket should work one entire year to buy this "denunciation". It is this hypocrisy of contemporary photography “who denounces” that is unbearable for me, it often pretends to reproduce reality or to recreate it. But what concerns me, is that I have the maximum ambition to create - not to recreate, not to show – a reality: mine. Objectivity can’t exist in photography, a medium which is too polluted.

If you have to autodefine your photography, what would you say?
My photography is me.

What equipment do you use (camera, negatives, printing process)? do you make digital changes?
Mainly I use an old camera from the `60s or `70s with black and white film. In color, there is a whole side of my work that hasn’t been shown yet. I suffer from the daily disappearance of films and I can’t find their quality in digital photography. That, I don’t use, except occasionally and professionally.

Why do you work with black and white?
That’s how I see life. I don’t feel exalted by a colored environment and I think that it influences one’s artistic training. For example, there is a great richness in Britannic photography in black and white and, on the contrary, in California, they use a lot of colors.

To make this retrospective, “un peu de tout”, you had to review your work. Did you discover some constants and/or changes through the years?
First, I would say that it’s a very small sample of my work. I could present ten times more photos of which I would be also proud! Constants are, at the same time, in themes and "technology". I needed a lot of time and practice to become who I am today and who I claim to be. It’s a completely unconscious process. I couldn’t be separated from my historical influences and, worse, the unconscious influence of that period. I have realized lately, in less than ten years, that it was easy to be carried by the photographic trend of the moment. On the contrary, finding one’s own writing is sometimes a difficult process, especially so in my case, because I was driven away from contemporary tendencies …

Has being a photographer affected the way you perceive the world day-to-day?
No, I think that it’s the other way round; my day-to-day perception of the world influences my photographs. Especially in this idea of being "against": against the predominant model, against society, against the modern world which I detest, etc.

4 comentarios:

sushi punk dijo...

grossa sol.

J. dijo...


AliaS DadA dijo...

lástima q mis ojos de chupucero lecto-inglishh no basten para leer esta nota al groso de Monfourny!

yo la sigo igual...aunque sea en silencio y sin entender

un beso

Christa dijo...

This is fantastic!