Last November, the visit to Jeune Création exhibition at Centquatre in Paris was a great to chance to discover several prominent young artists. One of them particularly caught my attention, a Parisian photographer Pauline Hisbacq. At Jeune Création, she was featured with her work Natalya, a series of photograms on Natalia Shaposhnikova, a young Soviet gymnast who participated at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. These pictures, photograms, are created using youtube clips and television news: the artist has used flash images featuring the young athlete. She has, however, carefully chosen the pictures, which aren’t strictly speaking connected to the context, the competition itself: this is how she unfolds a whole new, fictive character Natalya, who isn’t anymore in relation with the competition. A new story comes about, independent from its original context: by doing this, the artist questions the boundaries between fiction and documentary approach in photography, which finally reveals to be, almost of no importance. With her work, Hisbacq evokes successfully the essential themes of contemporary photography: questions on originality, manipulation and imitation. Also her working method is quite intriguing: when working mainly on the internet, she takes advantage of the material found online, using pictures which already exist. This re-use of photographs and video clips raises also the question on the challenges that digital photography presents to old criteria.
One of my favourites is however Hisbacq’s series Holden, a collection of her personal photographs, captured during a residency in New York in summer 2011. With this series, Hisbacq retraces the frenetic path of the young Holden as in the novel The Catcher in the Rye. Even though this isn’t necessarily an original idea, the photographer has, however, managed to do this in a way, which ables to capture the perpetual themes of the book, depicting the youth during the lost hours of the day, creating nostalgic feelings. Aimless wandering in the city, restless summer nights, taking the first metro home – these themes are strongly transmitted through her images, and it works. These motifs of alienation and melancholy are, despite their banality, universal and never outdated. Hisbacq has already treated the same questions with her previous work, This side of paradise (2008-2011), a series of photographs on Rallyes, parties for teenagers from upper-class, and also with Les battements (2011) and A l’ombre il y a des flours et la paille (2006-2009).
First, I read the story.
Then, I’ve been in New-York, looking for him.
Finally, I found Holden
Born in 1980, Pauline Hisbacq, has graduated from Ecole National Supérieure de la Photographie d’Arles in 2011, and works and lives in Paris. You can visit her ongoing exhibition at gallery Düo in Paris, on view until 19th January 2014. Besides this, the artist curates an online collection of photographs, on her blog La bienheureuse, which is worth checking out.