Friday, January 25, 2008

Didier Massard: Voyages Imaginaires

Today's Morning News: Black and White and Read All Over features an interview with Didier Massard, the Parisian tabletop photographer whose gallery series Voyages Imaginaires features dreamlike or fairy tale scenes.

I think the interviewer hits on the perfect description of the emotive mood of Massard's work: "Didier Massard’s photographs look like they could have been on the cover of your favorite book as a child, or come straight out of that weird dream you had last night." According to Didier Massard himself in the interview:

"I try to keep alive the ability of childhood to transform as a game an object into something else. I am doing the same in a sophisticated way. This means that I have a special relationship with things and consider that they may have a different meaning than what they appear to be. It is a great satisfaction when a trick succeeds."

Consider, for example, this landscape, with a carousel planted in the midst of a snowy wood - the "trick" is indeed beautiful; as Massard claims, the carousel - a recognizable object - becomes something else entirely:

And yet it remains a carousel. Is this not what fairy tales do? Take objects that are quite familiar and every day and plant them in strange surroundings, so that a farmer's daughter finds herself contending with trolls and becomes both more than a farmer's daughter and more fully realized as a farmer's daughter? Or so that a spinning wheel becomes something entirely strange when it begins spinning wool into gold, yet in doing so becomes more fully realized by the reader as a spinning wheel, that is, as a tool with an almost magical power to transform a plain substance into something blindingly wondrous in its usefulness? We forget that in spinning, we turn thread into a coat or a dress or something beautiful. We forget the alchemy that takes place. To remember, we have to see the spinning wheel as if for the first time, as a strange and wondrous artifact. Watching the wheel spin gold allows us to do this. The same is true of the carousel in Didier Massard's photograph: seeing the carousel like a surprise in the snowbound forest, we recover the childhood wonder of our first encounter with a carousel as an artifact strange and beautiful.

To view more of the Voyages Imaginaires, see Didier Massard's website, which is available in both French and English versions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His work is quite beautiful. I'll be shooting a film in the snow in a few weeks, and am always fascinated to see others interpretation of landscape in a story. I envision my characters small (like his carousel or cart) - in the midst of their awe inspiring surroundings and then go in closer to discover the real story. What a terrific art form he's creating.