First of all, I can’t hide you that Clara Prioux is a friend of mine, but more than that, I have to say that the work of this girl, born in 1989, is very interesting, clever and also quite funny. Working on one side with photography, she also works on the other side on paintings, installations and editions. I like to represent her small editions on art book fairs (to come Paper View – next month), so I decided to focus on her work and interviewed her for Wandering bears. I think it could be interesting to keep an eye on her .
LG. Your work is immersed in a kind of “international” melting pot with which you play to manipulate codes and symbols, where does this obsession, this specific interest come from?
CP. I travelled and moved extensively as a child, and I had the experience of this “international” melting pot that you’re talking about. I think that the similarities made stronger impressions on me than the specificities of each country. No matter where you go, there’s always a thin layer of impersonal, non-specific, un-located culture that settles in everywhere: brands, chain stores, hotel chains… whole spaces, settings that get recreated from one place to another. I know the emotional power that this uniformity can hold on someone; although it seems terribly impersonal, it is also what you hold on to when the rest of the environment keeps changing. I know from my own experience that we seek uniformity because it doesn’t involve any risk, it’s a reassuring solution that denies the reality of the place that you’re actually in. So, it is what is interchangeable, the culture (for lack of a better word) that can be found everywhere, that I am really interested in.
Niagara Falls, NY
Twentynine Palms, CA
American new memories – Ongoing series – 2008/2011
LG. So why don’t you take photographs in France ?
CP. I don’t take much photos in Strasbourg where I live, but I actually enjoy having separated spaces for getting the material, and then sorting it out. However, when I get the chance to stay in other places in France (which doesn’t happen that much) I do take some photos, but I just haven’t used them yet and I’m not sure when I will. I haven’t acquired the necessary distance that putting some work out requires yet.
What I seek when I travel is a distance. You have to take in a lot of information in a short period of time, put up with situations that you don’t necessarily chose, it’s often exhausting, but that’s what’s so great about it, this is where I think one can really observe. It’s such a full and complete experience that it forces a turning in on oneself. I never forget that in every country that I visit, I still am a “tourist” and this isn’t a problem for me, I acknowledge that. It allows me to be more focused, and concentrate on what’s really before my eyes, in the image. I think it’s perfectly fine to react to anything that you’re exposed to, no matter the level of knowledge of the place or the culture. If you don’t pretend to know more than you do, the experience in itself is enough of a source of honest material and thinking.
American chain – series of five photographs, framed, 10 x 15 cm
From left to right : Clara Prioux-Mickey Mouse, Michael Jackson-Mickey Mouse, Michael Jackson-Cher, Hillary Clinton-Cher,
Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama.
LG. You publish many small books that are quite funny and always well crafted, what is your relation to edition ? Can you give us your impressions on self publishing nowadays ?
CP. I like the specific approach of working on a book, compared to other mediums. The book in itself offers a structure already, so it’s easy to take pleasure out of the process.I think self-publishing nowadays… might be getting a bit crowded. Everyone seems to say that it’s great that it is so democratic and everything… but I’m not so sure. I’ve got the feeling that everything is leveled, especially due to the fact that most people experience the books on the internet and photos of the books, rather than in flesh. It’s a fertile and dynamic field, and there are great books out there, but there’s so much visibility that there seems to be no visibility anymore.
America for sale, All the images in the book are taken from Ebay.com classifieds.
LG. What are your projects for the years ahead ? Do you have dreams ? Desires ?
CP. I don’t really plan projects on the long term… but as far as next year goes, I’d like to go to Sweden and spend some time there. I’m interested in the country, the culture, the climate, and some artists and writers and bands that come from there, so this is what I’m dreaming of right now. Northern lights, long nights, snow, blonde hair… things like that !
Cultural landscapes vol.1, Meals and desserts named after cities or regions of the world,
taken from cookbooks and restaurant menus.
LG. Finally, a video ? A song ? An hymn that portrays Clara Prioux ?
CP. I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone …
Please let me add that my appreciation of Cher is completely honest and very deep, I understand her. Try it too !