It’s the end. Or is it really ? The cameras have been tucked away, my suitcase is ready. I’m leaving Scotland in a few days. I’m happy to head home, the residency is an intense creative experience. But I’m also sad to leave this working state of grace and Scottish life. I’ve integrated a daily life in my neighborhood of the West End, I’ve met a community of artists and mostly I’ve made a few friends.
This residency was a moment of great productivity for me. A moment where I was called to go beyond myself. After the first days of stress to get my project moving and trying to find subjects for my portraits, I must say that I will be leaving with a sense of having accomplished what I wanted. Certainly, a few moments of doubt, notably on the right angle to choose for the two themes of the residency. But in all, I made 15 portraits – some landscapes in the North – and images on the streets of Glasgow. A lot of balls to joggle with when I get back home.
For all the fascination I may have for this country’s grandiose landscapes, it is the people I’ve met that have touched me the most. That was – and still is – my greatest discovery here. I’ve had moments of pure happiness, alone, but also with a few friends, encounters that will stay with me.
Photo: Tom Astbury
I’ve said earlier it was the end, but we all know that’s not the case. My stay here is coming to an end but the work goes on. There still are two exhibitions to work on. One will be opening on September 22 in Glasgow at Street Level with my 3 other companions, the other on October 26 in Québec city at Vu. That’s quite task.
I will be distilling my work (to stay in a Scottish whisky metaphor) and the final result must be handed out quite rapidly. I’m used to a slow working process, on long term projects. Le Capteur for exemple took me 10 years, Dieppe was 4 year project. So, this short-term project really gets my creative juices working and creates a dynamic situation.
The editing process is a strange thing. It’s a state of mind where one must call on his sense of graphic design, of rhythm and storytelling. But for me it also means careful listening (yes listening) to the dialogue between the photographs. The tonal, semantic, chromatic and formal associations between the images reveal the true narrative of the work. But the process is pretty intuitive. I’m constantly looking at maintaining my voice. I try to eliminate every bit of exotism to keep only the pictures that seem enigmatic. Also involved is steering the whole project always a little closer to home, to me, working it in the most personal way I can. There are no simple recipes, no easy methods to arrive at a significant set of pictures. Each photograph must find it’s true space, it’s visual weight, it’s balance and necessity in the sequence. And above all, the photographs must remain questions, interrogations more than answers. At this part of the process, I work with small prints. It’s important to get out of the computer screen and work with the physicallity of the prints, moving them around freely. I love this distillation process, from the many to the few, however hard and sometimes painful it can be on the artist’s soul. There lies the true photographic writing, the final creative gesture, on the table and on the wall.