Frédérick Carnet's Black Journeys
Frédérick Carnet is a French photographer born in 1972. Self-taught, the artist specializes very quickly in the black and white photo at the laboratory of Toros Aladjadjian and begins to undertake fascinating personal series. After working for press and advertising photography, he moved more freely towards the development of his personal projects. It was after a trip to Japan that he refined his gaze and produced a first photographic study of nature.
A book, Nippon 2011, will be produced especially from photographs taken in the areas affected by the tsunami and the earthquake. The photographer also traveled through the woody prefecture of Fukushima, counter Geiger in hand, to account for the beauty of this poisoned Japanese nature. With a real talent for portraiture and landscape, Frédérick Carnet travels regularly to bring back images full of hints and loads, almost every time, a strange atmosphere. In collaboration with Leo Tamaki, he set up the series Budoka no Kokoro, dedicated to the last great masters of Budo, ancestral martial art and launched a fundraiser to produce a book on the series. Distinguished by the Kodak Prize for Photographic Criticism and the HSBC Prize, Frédérick Carnet regularly exhibits his works in Paris, London or the rest of Europe.
Frédérick answered a few questions about his work, explaining his links with nature and landscapes, and why photography remains a wonderful means of expression for him.
How do you relate to nature?
After spending many years in urban areas, I left Paris for a small village in the Sarthe because I needed calm and greenery. Even if I spend too much time in front of my computer, I like to go for a walk in the forest of Sillé Le Guillaume, forest that I adore. And for many years I have been trying to integrate respect for nature into my lifestyle. It is complicated especially when you practice photography which is a polluting medium.
What was your state of mind when you produced the images of Japan and especially Fukushima?
On a first trip to Japan in 2008, during which I produced the Budoka No Kokoro series, I was amazed by the Japanese forests and more generally by the place that nature took in this country that we too often A tendency to see only as an ultra-modern and ultra-urbanized country. Japan is, above all, a magnificent rural country that deserves to be discovered. A few months after the natural catastrophe which was very soon followed by the nuclear accident of Fukushima, I decided to carry out a photographic study of nature in Japan through what it offers and resumes when it manifests itself violently. For this, I made nearly 3000 km by bike during the last 3 months of 2011 from northern Hokkaido to Tottori. I spent a little more than 15 days in the prefecture of Fukushima where I could see the difficulty of living in areas contaminated by radionuclides. What is terrible is that you see nothing, you do not feel anything. And if this prefecture is just magnificent, living there for the long term is now dangerous. What is striking is that we can only marvel at the beauty of nature in Fukushima. But as soon as one connects his counter Geiger, sadness, anger quickly rise before this invisible evil. I have the memory of having fallen face to face with a horde of macaques who, perched in the trees, were eating persimmons. I was completely charmed by this encounter unusual for a European like me, but at the same time sad to say that these animals ate contaminated fruit that men do not pick up because unfit for consumption. The life of farmers has become very complicated …
Can you tell me more about the design context of the series “From the fragility of being”, is it conceived as an introspective, cathartic series …
She was born during a stay in the hospital, and rather than spoiling me with drugs, I tried, through photography, to understand how I got there. This series is built in 3 tables: the hospital, the forest and then the balance (chapter realized on the island of Ouessan). In doing this work, I also made my life evolve towards what I wanted, towards what was to be good for me. And this “good” that nourishes me now is found in nature, in wide open spaces. I find there the serenity I need and the freedom to exist without constraint. In any case, trying to get rid of all the consumerist, urban constraints and so on. Finally I think that the thread of my personal work for now 5/6 years is nature. Even if I photographically express it according to the desires of the moment (color, black & white, silver, digital etc.)
You are leaving very soon in Iceland, what are you looking to bring back from your travels?
Before I want to bring anything back, I’m already going to seek well-being and serenity. Leaving alone for three months, traveling by bicycle, in the tent (which I had not done in Japan), will be a human experience again extraordinary. Introspection is likely to be intense! Then I have no idea what I’ll find, do it and bring it back in terms of images. I just know that this new photographic work will be turned towards nature. Rendez-vous in 6 months! On the other hand in Iceland there are hardly any trees and even fewer forests!
© Frédérick Carnet
Le site de Frédérick Carnet: www.frederickcarnet.com