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Éditions Nazraeli

INSIDE VIEWS

 

The patient night arrives. Nothing but the night, deployed, focused on its deepest hour. The night, which is also the city, fully itself, without restraint or prudence, complicit and hostile, suddenly occupies the void in front of us.

We hold our breath.

In the eternal insomnia of the megalopolis, splashed by stark lights like so many isles of solitude, a heart beats, fragile, human.

Alone at her balcony, a slender red-headed silhouette stands out against a canvas of skyscrapers and a toneless sky. Suspended over the city, a woman imprisoned in a glass cage. Also solitary, another figure ensconced in the intimacy of her room … There’s something inaccessible about their silent reverie. As if the night had given them back to themselves.

“Inside Views” is a series of open windows. Open to the exterior. To the night, the other night, any night, as if the day had never existed. Windows on the voracious, sprawling, inhuman, limitless city, the city without end. Windows looking back onto inner space, the world of dreams, of the self, onto the silence of solitude, into a calm suffering. 

“In the day, you can’t see anything, colors soften, people are absent. They are snatched from their homes and from themselves. So, I wait for the night, its colors, its intensity, its vibrations, its silence, its fire. I wait for the intimacy of the night.”

Floriane is forever waiting for night to cast its revealing veil over the world’s great cities. Since 2004, from New York to Shanghai, with the same attention, in a series of carefully orchestrated mises en scène she has been capturing the city from on high.

“Every photo is a mise en scène which requires entire days of preparation in terms of finding locations, choosing perspectives, selecting the model who’s going to pose in the foreground of the image, setting up the lighting … Nothing’s left to chance. Except chance itself, or, in other words, everything that’s beyond my control: the rain that begins to fall, a window suddenly illuminated by the flick of a switch, an unexpected passer-by, a car’s headlamps, the glow of a street lamp … I have systematically to deal with the unexpected, the kind of ‘errors’ that can creep into my shots and, by chance, make the image richer. I never know for certain just what I’ve photographed before I develop the negatives, sometimes even before I’ve blown up the prints …”

Every image is a natural diptych – with no artifice or retouching – juxtaposing a calm, intimate, Apollonian foreground in which there is an isolated figure, as if having found itself at last, and a background featuring the teeming, Dionysian city, illuminated by ocelli of light scattered through the darkness. The tension comes from the coexistence, in one and the same landscape, of a series of opposites: inside and outside, light and darkness, solitude and multiplicity, flatness and relief, emptiness and fullness, immobility and movement, silence and noise, identity and anonymity. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Paris, New York, Moscow or Istanbul. I don’t indicate that. For the titles of the ‘Views’, I just used a series of numbers, from 1 to 125. I don’t photograph cities, I photograph The City, a kind of imaginary city which inhabits every megalopolis. The city is the product of Man’s lack of measure, of his genius, his madness. It exceeds him, overwhelms him. It’s on the point of devouring him.”

Floriane was twenty-five when she first went to New York to study at the International Center of Photography, enchanted by architecture, volumes, light, design, supermarkets, ultra-consumerism. She produced a series of “Portraits” in which no human figure appeared, which featured only clothes and accessories. In another series – “Supermarkets” – she focused on consumer products: graphic, absurd, serial, dehumanized. As if the real were too violent to be confronted face on, Floriane photographed angular, rectilinear buildings, with the sharpest of edges, conjuring up images whose main protagonists are shadows. 

“For a long time I was afraid of photographing people. I still feel as if I were stealing something from them …”

Soon, from a distance, Floriane began to snap passers-by set like jewels in the urban matrix … Finally, she confronted the Other. And, first and foremost, herself, since she is the first person to appear in the series, in “View No. 21” (cf. the cover of the book). By placing her camera on the roof of the building opposite and releasing the shutter via remote control, she was able to capture an image of herself at home in Apartment # 4F in East Village, Manhattan, with the impassible city and the silent sky above her. After that, every one of her “views” contains and delivers a solitary character, like a forlorn watchman. A presence at once absent from the world and at the heart of the world, excessive or present by default, often feminine, often in red, ecstatic and lost, sacred and savage. Recognizable. 

With their metallic colors, these images outline an interior, intimate geography, the geography of our presence in the world, the presence of the human being after the death of the gods and the great utopias of the 20th Century. 

Each shot is a mirror held up to our consciousness. A sleepless mirror, ceaselessly monitoring our reflections. In the greedy, watchful silence and in the convoy of successive nights, from one “view to the next, it’s always the same obsessive quest: what remains of post-modern man, a core of solitude, which resists, which fall in love with the night. 

We’d like to avert our gaze, quieten down the silence. And yet we are hypnotized by the blinding lights, promises of life, and by our fantasmatic double, at once so near to us and so far away. 

The day will come and make everything disappear. Wait a while longer by the window in this denouement which is a form of plenitude.

Virginie Luc


 

Dans la haute insomnie de la mégapole, éclaboussée de lumières imprenables comme autant d’îlots de solitude, un coeur bat, fragile, humain. 

Seule à son balcon, une fine silhouette, plaquée contre la toile des gratte-ciels.

En suspend au-dessus de la ville, une femme prise dans une cage de verre. Solitaire encore, une autre figure blottie dans l’intimité de sa chambre… Il y a quelque chose d’inaccessible dans leur rêverie silencieuse. Comme si la nuit les rendait à elles-mêmes.

« Inside Views » sont autant de fenêtres ouvertes. Sur le dehors. Sur la nuit, l’autre nuit, n’importe quelle nuit, comme si aucun jour n’était à venir. Sur la ville vorace, tentaculaire, inhumaine, c’est-à-dire sans limites, in finie. Sur le dedans aussi, l’intérieur, le songe, sur soi-même, sur le silence de la solitude, comme une calme souffrance. 

« Dans le jour, on ne voit rien, les couleurs s’estompent, les gens s’absentent. Ils sont happés à l’extérieur de chez eux et d’eux-mêmes. Alors, j’attends la nuit, ses couleurs, son intensité, ses vibrations, son silence, ses feux. J’attends l’intimité de la nuit ».

Floriane n’en finit pas de regarder tomber la nuit sur les grandes cités du monde. Depuis 2004, de New York à Shanghai, avec la même attention, le même soin, dans des mises en scène savamment orchestrées, elle capture la ville d’en haut. 

« Chaque prise de vue est une mise en scène qui nécessite des journées entières de préparation… Rien n’est laissé au hasard. Sauf le hasard lui-même, c’est-à-dire, tout ce qui échappe à mon contrôle : c’est la pluie qui se met à tomber, une fenêtre qui soudain s’éclaire ou s’éteint, un passant imprévu, les feux d’une voiture, le faisceau d’un lampadaire… À chaque fois, il me faut gérer cette part d’imprévu, « l’erreur » qui risque de perturber mes plans et, par chance, enrichir l’image. Je ne sais jamais de façon certaine ce que j’ai photographié avant de développer le négatif, parfois même, avant de faire des grands tirages…»  

Chaque image est un diptyque naturel, sans artifices ni retouches, qui juxtapose un premier plan calme, intime, apollinien, où l’on perçoit un être isolé, « tel qu’en lui-même enfin », et un second plan, celui de la ville fourmillante, dionysiaque, irradiée par des ocelles de lumière qui éparpillent l’obscurité. La tension émane de la coexistence, en un seul et même paysage, des contraires :  intérieur et extérieur, clarté et obscurité, solitude et nombre, aplat et relief, vide et plein, immobilité et mouvement, silence et bruit, identité et anonymat.  

« Peu importe qu’il s’agisse de Paris, New York, Moscou ou Istanbul. Je ne photographie pas des villes, mais La ville, une sorte de ville imaginaire qui habite chaque mégapole. La ville est le produit de la démesure de l’homme, de son génie, de sa folie. Elle l’excède, le déborde. Elle est sur le point de le dévorer ».

Virginie Luc