MEETING WITH CAMILLE POGU3 August 2017
Seen on A Part Magazine N°1, Meeting with CAMILLE POGU
How have you got to where you are today?
I would say it really started two or three years ago, no more than that. Before that, even though I did produce a few projects, it was more of a time for preparation. I did not attend any of the big schools, I took art courses in college. At first, after a little disappointment at not having been offered a place at any of the schools; it turned out to be a very rich period where I learned to develop my projects and my research in a liberated way.
What were your first pieces like?
My first pieces were collages combining pieces of flesh that I found in magazines. Then I started doing some digital editing and this is where I understood that I needed to go via the physical. No matter the project, the purpose, or the desire, I have to go through a real, physical form. It is the experience of the material which guides my thoughts. I started using resin, attracted by its physical characteristics.
First, by creating blocks which imprison textures and patterns; a fairly standard approach. Then, it was the ability to imitate water which led my thinking. I moulded small objects into the form of droplets or puddles that I placed on pieces of illustrated bodies. Something very organic, sensual without really being such. […] For the same reasons of sensory attraction, I experimented with concrete castings. From there a series of concrete jewellery was born, which is still ongoing and requires other technical conditions than those currently available to me. Today I’m working on two projects in a series, both of which are a reflection on contemporary romance, and a form of sensuality. […]
How has the imagery of fashion influenced you? What do you like about it?
Generally, it is an imagery which applies to me. From my surroundings or social networks, it’s a choice that I make to follow this content, but I do not completely control its discovery, unlike other areas. And it’s quite nice. Consciously or not, this creates a directory of influences that necessarily determines a part of my job, especially in the structure of the images, the staging. But what influences me most, I think, is the nudity presented in the shape of the garment: full, empty, transparent… Which, in terms of staging, becomes strange and risky. When the body is constrained, forced, or even abused, something happens and whether we like it or not, it never leaves us. I am reminded of the Fish out of water series by the photography duo Tré + Elmaz for Blackmag, the work of Carlijn Jacobs or the designer Hussein Chalayan.
Your works often crystallise both a romantic and sombre vision at the same time. Is this a willingness to play on the ambiguity of emotion? If so, what do you want to show through this?
It is actually a romantic vision that translates into my projects, and indeed a dark vision. For if romanticism conjures up committed, passionate feelings, it is also associated with a form of melancholy, solitude, nostalgia. For the Wet flower project, the presence of these two emotions seemed obvious to me. Whilst the offering of flowers is a typically romantic action, the ephemeral side of the cut flower is more dramatic. You are offering something extremely beautiful, something elusive whose beauty can only be admired for a few days. I then thought it would be strange to find a technique which retained the young beauty of cut flowers, to freeze them in a moment that is as important as it is ephemeral. I imagined this resin coating, like an envelope, that would crystallise the right moment. Whatever happens, the flower ends up dying after a shorter or longer period of time, in a more or less beautiful way. A feeling of imminent end. It is a relationship with time and the end of things that I have always struggled to manage more personally, and which, I think, captivates me with flowers. To finalise this reflection I chose to photograph them at the right time, where their beauty is still intact, near young and naked bodies. But when the picture is taken, the moment has already passed.
You translate the portrait through a blur and a fluidity that transforms, distorts and parasitises the bodies. What technique(s) do you use and what does this signify?
For the écran series, it was more of a self-portrait than portrait. The goal of this distortion is to keep private what should be private. For one or two years now, I have asked women to send me the erotic photos and sexts that they send to their lovers. I then displayed these images on a screen and took a photo through one of my resin pieces. Then I printed them on tarpaulins or plexiglass, two other types of screen. It was very important that they be real sexts, that is to say they have really been sent to the person being seduced. It is the entire narration that is at stake behind this practice, which seems interesting and moving to me. […] It is a process of sharing, the other becomes the owner of this image, all the more because of the format of a phone: its body is in the hand, in the pocket. […] I wanted to defend this practice, which is sometimes misunderstood between generations, because it remains a form of freedom, freedom from your body and your sexuality. But I think it should be kept as a secret, in a private circle. In the écran project, each sign of precise sexuality is hidden, distorted to keep only an overall idea of the naked body, the forms that the body takes when excited, of the erotic.
It is therefore a series that is linked to a strong individual narration, the story of a private erotic poetry. And then this distortion, through the prism of the resin, mixes the colours in a wild, almost passionate way.
Your images flirt with abstraction. Is it a movement that influences you? Why?
In spite of a rather large distortion of the image, I still remain in a more or less perceptible form of representation, the presence of a known motif exists. I feel more attracted by the distorted portraits of Francis Bacon or the photographic distortions of André Kertész. My portraits flirt with a form of abstraction but the eye always ends up finding a certain portrayal through the presence of a body, an object.
Between fiction and reality, where would you place your work?
The strength of each project is that it is based on a true story or a living object, this is where it draws its strength from. After that, the final object can be sufficient in and of itself and everyone is free to project their own narrative. But it never really becomes abstraction, I need this reality to anchor my projects. A fragile but necessary reality.
/ Texts by Maxime Gasnier