Texts — Notes on my work

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Notes on my work

Much contemporary photography can be distilled into three main approaches. The most widespread is documentary photography, providing a view of reality that may or may not be critical, while narrative photography has parallels with film-making and diary-keeping. A third strand shares aspects of the pictorial tradition, where works can be appreciated much as paintings are.

My work lies where these approaches cross. I bring together pieces of the physical world, items that may be personal or relate to the history of art and photography. I build an individual narrative from these parts that explores my own experience of reality. The fragmented and shifting conception of the image allows a wide range of interpretations and readings. This is why photography drew me very naturally as a medium for addressing issues close to my heart. I feel photography is a tool both for questioning the physical world and human memory, and for exploring subjects such as violence, love, desire, the horrific, or human nature and its paradoxes.

My photographs and videos are the product of a long maturing process in my studio. This way of working enables me to draw my compositions into shape gradually, to experiment with light and to let the issues I examine evolve. I try to reveal the core, removing all but the essential items and arranging them so as to create the truest image of what I want to consider. Leaving a work to mature also reveals whether it is strong enough in its own right to be lasting. Finally, the size of the image must be chosen. I prefer to choose whatever size best suits the subject, so my work includes some photos measuring 220x170cm and others that are only 10x10cm.

In terms of form, my videos are increasingly like photographs just brought to life by the breathing of the person filmed, or by subtle changes in lighting, and so on. I try to achieve a kind of Degree Zero in video that draws on photographic principles but avoids the lifelessness of a static image.

In addition, I practise a form of sculpture that is unlike classical sculpture in the strictest sense. For example, 'Noos' and 'Bang Bang' are structures built from inflatable parts. In 2010, I began a series of sculptures entitled 'Compositions'. Each sculpture is made from a selection of items I have used in my photographs or films. This creates new semantic links between the different facets of my work.

Frederic Nakache

Translation by Kevin Flannagan