Exclusive interview with Gabrielle Duplantier


  Gabrielle Duplantier has the gift of seeing beyond the veil, of digging subtly but yet, deep enough, to convey through photos, emotions that are often overlooked by us in our daily lives. In her newest work, entitled Volta, the artist returns to her past and origins, bringing to light, themes that are close to her heart, in a frenzy of moviments and exultations. In an exclusive interview, Gabrielle spoke with us about her exhibition in Brazil, her inspirations, growing up in the Basque country and her relationship with her brothers in Gojira.

How has the exhibition in Brazil come into being and how have the feedbacks been so far?
G: Myriam Mugica, director of the Belèm Alliance Française, took the initiative of organizing this exhibit. I have known her for many years; she has already invited me to exhibit in about ten Alliances Françaises in Spain in 2009, and has always kept up with my work. This year, with the publication of my new book Volta, Myriam collaborated with the superb Museum UFPA in Belèm to present that exhibition of photos from this book. The elaboration at a distance turned out very satisfactory.
I have received good feedback from the staff of the museum, the press and the public who all seem to appreciate the general atmosphere of Volta.

Are you interested in the Brazilian art and culture?
G: I know nearly by heart the sound-track of the movie Orfeu Negro, that I used to listen to when I was very young. I discovered the movie itself years later; it was a shock. It’s one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. Otherwise, what I perceive from Brazil, is it's music of course, rough rythms, street art, mad colors, wild dance expression. I love the sound of the language too.

For me, your photos evoke a spectrum of hidden yearnings, as if every face, every scenario was finally given the chance to tell their story, their fears, their struggles, their beauty. It feels as if an entire lifetime was portrayed in the flash of a second and came into light in the silent demeanor of black and white, and for that chance, the world would always kindly stop…just for that click. How do you often envision the interaction between the scenarios and models? Do you have a previous feeling you want to express or a theme to explore and hence choose for particular scenes to render it, or do you spot a particular scene and feel the urge to photograph it? 
G: Each picture has it's specific context, with or without scenario, or sometimes a accidental mix of the two. I dream of certain images, I am inspired by many things but nothing clearly defined so I experiment, I compose with reality, seeking to take a step sideways, an opening I can slip into and maybe find something invisible until then.
I don't intellectualize anything, I am simply guided by this mystery, I have never sought to understand anything and that is where I get my greatest joy.
What I know is that for me taking pictures is about feeling.

Growing up in the Basque country had a great impact on your art. Having travelled to many places, what are the nuances that are unique to this region for you?

G: The world is full of sumptuously places, and fabulous light. Basque Country is most certainly one of them, but the reason I take pictures there is that i live there, and so have not to go far to continue my work on it easily. If I were living in China, I would be taking pictures of China.

A theme that is recurrent in your work is femininity. It deluges through all your photos, appearing sometimes subtly in the flight of birds or in the grandeur of a chapel and other times in its purest incarnation: women. Amongst all of its infinite manifestations, what are the personal traces you best enjoy capturing in your work?
G: The best explanation of this feeling you have is probably that I am a women, and necessarily see things and people with feminine eyes.
Anyway, the subject is less important than the way it is treated; it is always a personal interpretation.

Another photography series that is one of my personal favorites is “Les enfants d’ici” (which can be seen here). I can feel an imminent and urgent need to portray the world from the eyes of a child before it fades completely. What was the main sensation you wanted to awaken in the public? Have you envisioned it as a door through which we could reconnect to our younger selves?
G: This series "Les enfants d'ici" is about the many moments I spent with the children of an elementary school in an under-privileged neighborhood of my town where I held a photo workshop for the kids during years. While working with the children I started taking pictures of them, of simple daily situations and interactions. The surroundings where particularly harsh and I found the contrast between the children and the milieu they were growing up in very inspiring. I wound up being asked to make a book with those pictures.

How was working with your brothers since the beginning and witnessing, through your lens, the art of Gojira blossoming and evolving?
G: I am lucky to have great relationships with my brothers. We have a common sensitivity in many domains. I love their music, have gone to their concerts ever since the beginnings in small bars or local events.
First, they asked me to take pictures of the band from the start, to help out, since I was there and had a camera. The years went by and we all progressed in our disciplines, and our collaboration has continued and is getting better and better.
I take pictures for the press, lives shows or album artwork. Sometimes, they compose music for my personal projects, like public slideshows. I admire theirs spirit and theirs intelligence, they are complete artists.

Last but not least, what are your plans for the future?   
G: Presently I have lots of different projects going, I live day to day.

We thank you, Gabrielle, for taking time to answer these questions and wish you all the best for your future and career.

Volta is avaliable for acquisition at http://www.lamaindonne.fr/lamaindonne/Volta.html
For more on Gabrielle's work, check her personal site: http://www.gabrielleduplantier.com/
All photos by Gabrielle Duplantier.

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