I have always been fascinated by the places where people wait. I like to observe their movements, their postures, their looks, the groups they form, the situations that are created in these very special moments when time is suspended – non-places, as the anthropologist Marc Augé calls them. . For this reason, train stations, bus or tram stops interest me, but airports are privileged places because their structure gives them a theatrical dimension. The architectural elements, the furniture, the colors make up a setting in which a cohort of extras evolves, as on a stage. It’s a show that I don’t try to understand but whose visual dimension appeals to me.
The airport is also a space that brings together everything that usually captures my photographer’s eye: the play of light, transparency and reflections, the eﬀects of superimpositions that create a loss of landmarks and give this very strong impression of being between two worlds, this ambivalence “inside / outside”. And then there are the signs – arrows, numbers, letters – which mark out the frame. I have always liked the vocabulary of signage.
Every plane trip is a new photo opportunity. I hasten to get rid of the formalities to be fully available and capture any images that might come up. Luck and chance also play an important role. You have to be on the lookout. There is nothing worse than missing a great opportunity – the photo doesn’t wait.
I am happy afterwards when I sit near the window – I always manage to be near the window. I relive that dream of flying as we move away from the ground. When I was a kid when there were problems at home or at school I used to take my wings to escape, to take some distance by flying mentally. And it worked very well.
Interview by Marianne Théry
Harry Gruyaert : Last Call
October 22 – December 31, 2020
Magnum Gallery, Paris
19 Rue Hégésippe Moreau
75018 Paris, France