Situation 33: Julien Lescoeur
“Julien Lescoeur works with such a unique precision. He keeps on visting the spaces that he is planning to photograph over and over again. In his photographs I always sense the beauty of isolation — in this emptiness, fundamental questions such as the question of life or the question of signification are contained. Juliens photographs are mournful and suggestively violent, and every series seems to reflect his inner balance – like an opened diary.” (Lucia Lux)
Situation 33 is already the third exhibition by Julien Lescoeur that Lucia Lux is curating and will feature five large-sized photographs from his “Aerolithiques” series: http://www.julien-lescoeur.com/blog/works/v/
“My descriptive approach combines a pictorial character and a neutral distance, an inspiring silence. Cultivating the aesthetics of presence through the idea of absence, I subtly question the relationship of man to his urban environment.” (Julien Lescoeur)
Please don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange a private view of the exhibition.
Max Dax: What does the term “Aerolithiques” actually mean?
Julien Lescoeur: It’s French and it literally means “out of space”. It describes something that you cannot identify, something that is from out of space. It took me a long time to actually find the title. It came to me three years after I had made the photos. My photos are not telling you what to think or how to interpret them. A title therefore must deal with that. The title shouldn’t be a “key” to interpretation. But of course it has more to do with the idea of space than with a scientific approach to space. The photos are encounters with objects that you can’t identify.
MD: The ‘Aerolithique’ seems to be nothing more than a grey, cubic box.
JL: Yes, but the cube is a symbol. It is charged with a broad scale of references — paintings, films, legends and the idea of isolation. The monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Space Odyssee” stands for God, the creator of the world. In that sense, a simple cube can be loaded with significance and can therefore be a very strong object. I try to analyze the absolutism of the cube in my photographs. And I analyze it by using the simplest elements that photography allows: horizontals, verticals, volume. The resulting images are then subject to interpretation.
MD: What cube did you actually photograph?
JL: I had a studio during my residency at ZKU in Berlin-Moabit. On the ceiling some pipes were covered by a white, wooden box. Actually, the whole room was painted white and so was the box. I had this object just over my head all my day. I started to stare at it and I finally decided to make some photos of it.
MD: Was it an otherwise empty studio?
JL: No, it wasn’t empty. On the floor I had a sofa and some furniture. But the ceiling was empty — except for this box that was supposed to hide the pipes.
MD: You were looking at the ceiling and you saw a different space?
JL: Exactly. Every morning I’d have my coffee in my studio and gaze at the ceiling. And after some weeks I noticed the cubic wooden construction up there was clearly not a part of the original architecture. It had been added eventually. That struck my attention. In every of my previous series I reinterpreted something that I had seen in the urban environment. And this time I started to examine and to reinterpret a three-dimensional structure in my own studio.
MD: Do you try to abstract?
JL: That’s what I mean when I use the term “to isolate”. I isolate or abstract an object from its surroundings — be it a gas station at night in the moment where absolutely nothing is happening or be it a box underneath my studio ceiling. Getting a perfect frontal view of that box then becomes my subject for the next weeks or months. In this case I had to get a huge ladder to get really close to the box. Then I started experimenting with a tripod that I would glue to the ceiling. Some of the photographs from the “Aerolithiques” series were taken from a camera angle really close to the ceiling, only 20 or 30 centimeters away from the box — there simply wasn’t more space I could use. I basically did the photos upside down. And that’s exactly why you lose the perspective when you gaze at them. They are not only headfirst, but also inverted. It’s basically what you’d see when you’d look at the negatives. This way, the images become more open to interpretation. They become symbolic. You lose the aspect of architecture.
MD: The images from the “Aerolithiques” series have an eerie quality; they are very dark and haunting.
JL: This double inversion upside/down and negative/positive creates an atmosphere of fiction.
MD: Are there ghosts present in your photographs?
JL: Yes, there are. Before I made the “Aerolithiques” I had been having a break for a year. I hadn’t made any photos because a very dear and close person in my life had passed away. So, when I photographed the box on the ceiling there definitely was the ghost of that person present. I would go so far as to say that death is present in these photos. In that sense, the “Aerolithiques” are the most personal photos I’ve ever made in my life.
Read the full interview transcript of situation 33 with Julien Lescoeur as conducted by Max Dax on Nadine Endtner’s great blog VISUAL THOUGHTS on photogryphy.