Ylva Falk, Paris 2012
Needing little introduction , and following her latest exhibition XIII, Parisian photographer and upholder of intimacy, Emmanuelle Tricoire shares some insight into her practice, progression and aesthetic preferences.
SB: Can an image ever be too intimate; too explicit?
ET: I try to be intimate and explicit without it turning into porn or trashy photos. There is a thin line though. In the society of abundance of flesh, I prefer minimalism and sobriety than explicit and trash. In terms of bodies, I dont think you need to show everything; what’s intimate is the situation between the photographer and the person being photographed.
SB: Does Paris as a place and space to live in, have any bearing on your work (culturally or otherwise)
ET: I believe I would not be a photographer if I would not live in Paris. I have been living in Paris 11th for 20 years now, amongst skaters, punks, skinheads, street art, style and fashion. I don’t even know how many different faces I have seen since I was a kid. Culturally, I am a proud Parisian; I love the variety of people and the heavy historical background of Paris.
SB: What draws you to a subject? What makes you want to share them in your work?
ET: I am totally obsessed with features and body types. I really don’t know where my obsession comes from; noses, eyes, lips, cheekbones, necks and how they all work together. A detail will stand out to me, and I will want to share that but I have no criteria. I hear one’s attraction to people is a mix of all the people you met in your childhood.
SB: And what about the use of shadows/chiaroscuro?
ET: You know, living in France, you can’t really avoid Renaissance art as part of your inspiration. It is part of our collective unconscious. I love deep contrasts and obscure images and above all Caravaggio’s paintings. I realised that it allows me to draw the attention to one detail of the face. For example, in the portrait of Oiran, the shadow emphasises her amazing cheekbones perfectly.
SB: A number of your subjects such as Lalla and Francois Sagat are from unconventional sexual backgrounds and lifestyles, yet this is never the focus- is this to show equality beneath the social divide that we create?
ET: In 2012, can we really talk about norms and sexual conventions? I met them personally first, I treated them as equal as anybody else. Indeed, my aim is not to provoke, but to state that they are also part of our society.
SB: Do you think it is important for you as a photographer to remove yourself (emotionally) when working as intimately as you do?
ET: I think I do the total opposite. I often say that my portraits are self-portraits; these are people I met while I was questioning myself about sexual identity, androgyny, tattoos… and how they deal with it or their bodies for instance. Actually I think even if I would want to, I could not remove myself emotionally, I am fully part of the process.
SB: Its clear that you have been working with more colour in recent months; why the change?
ET: To be honest with you, artistically I am very happy with B&W nowadays, but professionally I have been told I should try colour films more often. I found it interesting to focus on colours or absence of colours on faces more than flashy colours. I like cold beauties, monochromic faces with neutral backgrounds. I have been through so many periods and phases depending on inspirations. For instance, I worked with cross-process films between 2005 and 2008.
SB:Working with square format is still relatively uncommon; how do you feel such a format impacts your work?
ET: Before that I was using 24×36 and 4.5×6 cameras. In 2010, I bought a 6×6 camera, when I realised that portraits were what I wanted to be specialised in. With square format, I believe you can get rid of the framing rules, and you are able to focus on the subject. It changed my work radically, I started to get more intimate, more frontal than before.
SB: What for you, can be communicated through the use of nudity?
ET: Nudity is truth; nudity is a gift from the person being photographed, and I never take it for granted. It says a lot: their story, past and where they are going.
SB: Three things to do when you aren’t photographing?
ET: I go to the Hammam at La Mosquée of Paris; this is my way to relax. I also find inspirations there, as you can see many almost naked women. I go out to opening shows, partying but also networking or having a coffee at a random café, the noise helps me concentrate on my writings and ideas. I am never not working…
SB: Biggest non-photographic inspiration?
ET: I must admit I have an obsession for liturgical images, Icons, Catholics aesthetics. Medieval paintings, tarots cards, astrology and symbols. I realised that unconsciously I put several religious symbols and feelings in my photographs. I presented a series called “Blessed in the fruit of thy Womb” few years ago. I have a Lady of Guadalupe tattooed on my back, and several more to come…