Julien Menand‘s photography is more than just framing, as the author of «Dé-monstration», he thinks outside of the frame, interacting with the spectator and being aware of the space. Space is a very important medium in Julien’s photography. The author shared his thoughts about the space in the photograph being restricted by frame, and the space the photograph is being placed in to.
Tell us a little bit about your photography.
I started photography in 1998, in Poland, by rebuilding old Russian cameras with a friend who used to collect them. After many years working with a subject to photograph I started being more interested in the topic of photography itself. What is the state of photography as a contemporary art form and which part does the audience take in its contemplation? The medium itself became the subject of my research more as what it may have represented. I guess this is where I moved on from being a photographer to being a visual artist, working with photography. Since then I haven’t stop oscillating between both fields.
How do you work with idea, how does it come to you and how do you carry it to the audience?
In my artwork, I attempt to thwart usual ways of appraising photography and to present the viewer’s sight with photographic-installation marked by the issue of interpretation and ambiguity. Topics contained in the images are more universal than societal. Each of these works are designed as a visual and mental stimulation which operates like a trap, where hopefully, the audience will eventually escape, and if not they will become a different person, or at least an awoken being. These works are political and philosophical in the way they aim at bringing the viewer from perplexity to reflection.
Nowadays we are overwhelmed by images, in our daily life as well as in the art world. It changes our way to look at images, we are trained to target the information the picture contains. I try to keep a critical assessment on the image consumption and therefore, I invite people to rediscover a way to look at photography. My photographic work is more focused on practicing photography and its aesthetics. I take it as an open space, a «Spielplatz» where I can experiment, interact and develop simple ideas while making portraits or covering a space or event.
What is your process when you take portraits of people? How do you approach working with them?
I strive to make portraits «with» people and not of «people». When it comes to photograph, within Editorial purpose, someone you never met before, the most sensitive step to me, is paradoxically to deconstruct, in the model’s mind, the idea of having a photographic meeting. For most of people, being photographed by a «professional» has a lot in common with going to the hairdresser. But it doesn’t work this way. On a set, I rather prefer to be genuine and not have the «professional» sticker stuck on my face, so we get more into an informal situation. That helps the model get involved and produce an image together with me.
Pictures start getting interesting when the model finds him/herself in a collaboration with the photographer. If you feel alone with your camera on a portrait set, you are already wrong.
Is the one that holds the camera the portraitist? Where are the limits of authorship in a portrait? What kind of portraits do you get when the photographer decides to have nearly no control? How and where are the photographer’s fields of influence taken place in a portrait-session ? This is what I am trying to quote in «Berliner Coevals», where I ask public figures to meet for a coffee before they step in a photoautomat.
What do you like most about analog photography? Do you ever use digital?
I like slow cameras because it forces you to invest care, time and money. It pushes you to learn paying more attention at taking pictures. I’m affectionate towards doing high-end work… and this is simply not possible with a digital camera or back. I’ve noticed I use digital, either when I get lazy and stop being demanding with my work, or when there is no budget. I can’t really remember if I used it once for the pictures it provides.
Is there a running project you’re working on we could share with our readers? Are there any future exhibitions planned we can visit?
I am still collecting «Einkapselung», portraits from people, so if they want they can send me their portraits (check: http://www.photoautomat.de/
How did you find out about Artconnect Berlin?
I just came to Berlin after being in Switzerland for two years, dreaming about it everyday. Not being fluent in German, I started, of course, digging into Berlin’s www. I was looking for an arty-network which could show more than what you can usually find wandering around in the city-galleries… and I finally found you!
Check his website here!