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Circulation(s) 2016 : Interview with Vilma Pimenoff


Here is the interview with Vilma Pimenoff by Sophie Bernard in the context of our coverage of the festival Circulation(s). Classical still life paintings remind us of the fleeting nature of time and our own mortality. A close look at Vilma Pimenoff’s work reveals that her still lifes are made with oilcloth. By using plastic material that takes hundreds of years to decompose, the artist reverses the relationship with the ephemeral. «21st Century Still Life» is the artist’s reflection on consumerism and the significant role that images have in today’s consumer societies.

Why did you become a photographer ?
Quite naturally it was always the thing I wanted to do. But it isn’t the only thing I do. I think photography is just a medium, much more interesting is what you want to say with photographs, what is your intention.

Do you do photography for living ?
I work as a commercial photographer to earn my living.

How did you find Circulation (s) ?
I saw a Circulations exhibition in Arles in 2011, that’s how I got to know about the festival. I am looking forward to be part of a festival that I think will have a lot of visibility, hopefully also response to my work.

Could you say a few word about the serie you’ll present à Circulation (s).
The series ’21st Century Still Life’  is a visual commentary on today’s image driven consumerism and materialistic culture where the obsession for perfection make the fake often seem more ideal than the real. I’m interested in the role that images have in today’s world -how images are used to alter reality and make us believe things (and ultimately convince us to buy stuff.)

Can you describe how you study or prepare the subject before shootting ?
To prepare this series, I researched the genre of still-life, I looked a lot of images and read about it. I collected the props, (vases and bowls) from flea markets and jumble sales. Then when I had all that I needed for the photo I start building the set in the studio. It takes a while to manage to shape the oilcloth the way it seems to be real but not quite. Then follows the next phase, lighting the set. This is crucial, because it is the light that makes the oilcloth that is flat to look like it has form and that it is not flat. I am faking the 2D to be 3D.

Who are your masters (photographers, artists…) ?
I find everyday life and popular culture very inspiring. And proverbs, I love proverbs.

Do you think that a picture (or photography) can change the world ?
No. That sounds a bit too much of a cliche to me. Of course photographs can have an impact on people, but I am very aware of the fact that photographs are often seen totally out of their original context, and they have absolutely nothing to do with any kind of truth. Photography is trickery.

Does photography change the way you see the world ?
It has confirmed me that I should not trust my eyes.

Festival Circulation(s) – Jeune Photographie Européenne
From March 26th to June 26th 2016
5 rue Curial
75019 Paris
Closed on Monday

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