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Valérie Simonnet


My life in 16 / 9th (15 photos from 100)

Like many urban dwellers, I live in a rod in front of another rod.

An unwritten, but tacitly followed rule in large complexes is not to look at the neighbor. First to protect yourself: not to look is to imagine that we are not looking at you, it is to preserve what is so rare in this type of environment, privacy.

A certain virus by depriving me of a possibility of photographic exogamy forced me to reinvest what was so close and so far, so taboo.

During the confinement I therefore photographed the windows facing me so as not to go mad. To continue working and find a link, including with myself, I looked at what we should not see. I have broken the rule of the right to privacy in an attempt to fuel my need for connection, for dialogue.

For 10 years I have been photographing the abandonment of man in the bustling city. Suddenly the city is depopulated no longer as a dystopia but as a reality. There is the need, the requirement and the right, to try to catch, to save it when we might want to dispossess it, the intimate of man. What he is when he’s not there for anyone.

It was only natural that the idea of ​​format was born. 16 / 9e, it is the format of the windows of my residence, but it is especially the photographic format of the great American landscapers, that of the infinite spaces. To address the taboo of the intimate I paradoxically wanted to do in the grand, the spectacular. Magnify the process and avoid the keyhole of the voyeur on the telephoto lens. I wanted each image as a fable, an allegory that escapes time and context, as I wanted to tear myself away from it. Take off from documentary realism to offer a timeless emotion, a memory of this moment snatched from time.

With each shot I asked myself the question of the quality of my gaze on my neighbors, my fellow men. Did I have anything to say about their privacy?

Of their privacy, certainly not, of mine it seems a lot. You only take pictures of yourself. These images of my neighbors, I quickly realized, spoke only of me, my dreams, my visions, my anxieties, my troubles.

Literally as well as figuratively, since what I saw in the north-facing windows of my neighbors was a reflection of my own building.

Valérie Simonnet (currently exhibited for another series at the Galerie Hillemand in Paris)





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