Tag Archives: Paris

Enfant Terrible: Ed van der Elsken

Ed van der Elsken isn’t a name you come across often in the mainstream world of photography. Partly because he steered clear of commercial work and partly because of his reputation as the ‘enfant terrible’ (loosely translated as the troublesome child). Like a lot of great artists, he refused to play by the rules, photograph nice people and pretty landscapes, instead he aimed to photograph all aspects of reality – the best and the worst of human nature.

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“I report on young, rebellious scum with pleasure … I rejoice in everything. Love. Courage. Beauty. Also blood, sweat and tears.”

Born in Amsterdam, der Elsken started off his career with the intention of becoming a sculptor before moving to Paris and discovering ‘la bohemes’ of Saint-Germain-de-Prés who would become the focus of his photography. Though much of his work purports to be documentary, it remains closely intertwined with the theatrical and surreal reflecting on the drug hazed bohemian society in which he lived. That said, the pictures are clearly rooted in the everyday rather than the transcendent, recording ‘characters’ in their intimate daily routines of drinking coffee, dozing and daydreaming. These are people who really existed despite polite society’s attempts to believe otherwise…

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der Elken also made a pretty hypnagogic film, Death in the Port Jackson Hotel, which features the star of the artist’s most famous photography series, Love on the Left Bank, Vali Myers, and is worth a watch if you can handle drawn out interviews with doe eyed hippies and bizarre sequences of toads mating.

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Alice Rainis: Ongoing Projects

London/Paris based photographer Alice Rainis has a way of finding beauty in the everyday – it’s an enviable talent and often makes her pieces very poignant. She’s got a number of long term projects which she adds to every now and then, such as the series of Polaroid Portraits, Music Artists Off Stage or Late Nights Early Mornings (well worth flicking through), but the most recent of these and the most interesting is XXI Century which features portraits of the creative or inspiring people who have crossed her path. She adds a new image every two weeks with a one line blurb beneath telling you who’s who and what’s what. 

 Check out her full portfolio on her website: http://www.alicerainis.com/. She’s a cool kid.

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Life without colour: Benoit Courti

Earlier today I stumbled across a collection of classic black and white pictures that had been ‘colourized’ and I’m not entirely sure I liked them. Though the image itself always remained the same the addition of colour seemed almost inappropriate.  I’m not under the illusion that in the past, the world was actually colourless, it’s just that colour demystifies the scenes. And isn’t mystery the very thing that makes the past so exciting? Where would our imaginations be without a little mystery and intrigue?

I think that’s why I love Benoit Courti’s black and white photography so much. It re-imagines a colourless world that is both sharply defined and incredibly mysterious. It highlights the simple beauty of shape and light and opens up innumerable questions…

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Check out Benoit Courti’s website for his full portfolio. His colour photographs are also incredibly beautiful: http://benoitcourti.4ormat.com/

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One to watch: Fabienne Rivory

I love Fabienne Rivory’s work. It’s delicate and faded like old photographs you find tucked away in a box in the attic, but at the same time it’s vigorously alive. Her latest, and probably most intriguing, series Mirori uses mirrored images blended with watercolour (a signature style across her work) to transform her personal memories into poetic visions. The combination of real setting with bursts of colour works to convey the intense emotion of the moment and transform the scene into one of the imagination.

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The images Rivory creates sort of remind me of Japanese Haiku in an obscure, visualised form in that they capture the very essence of a fleeting moment by using very little.

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It’s well worth visiting Rivory’s website to view the entirety of her project, Labokoff which began in 2007 and explores the theme of the real world versus dream: http://cargocollective.com/labokoff.

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