Laura Felten

Laura Felten

Learning to see

by Laura Felten (Germany)

The series was made in a acrobatic school in Paris. Nevertheless the series is not about dancing but more a study of embodiment and its connection to emotions. As a psychologist I was very interested in the strength of the physical and emotional bond. Furthermore I wanted the soft touch of painting to the pictures.

Portfolio from the Learning to see workshop with Chris Morris, November 2014.

Written review by CORINE HAMEL,
Photo editor at Marie Claire, France

Hello Laura, And thanks for choosing me to do your portfolio review on the occasion of your participation to the Chris Morris’s workshop.

Véronique told me that you participated earlier to the workshop with Todd Hido. I have consequently had a look at your previous work and watch your video interview. I learned that your photographic practice is quite recent. de photos que vous avez réalisées à l’Ecole du Mime ne laisse en rien deviner qu’il s’agit pour vous d’une pratique récente. At least your photographic practice with people. 
First surprise because the series you’ve made at the International Mime School does not give the impression this is early practice.

What hit me at first is the energy that springs from this series. The energy you were able to capture, the body tensions. And also your own energy, the one with which you shoot, you are there, at ground level, very close to your subjects, looking for the tempo, the rhythm, totally immersed, playing an active role in the scenes that take place in front of you but enough in control to shoot at the right moment.

Your choice of framings, their rhythm, reinforce this desire to make us accessible the intensity of the subjects’ body expression, either at the closest with a focus on the detail of both hands grabbing one another, of half open lips, a hug, sometimes slightly recoiled to breath back. We nearly forget its about fixed images and independent sequences.

Its a strong point to be able to immerse that way. « Be a sponge » as we say to transcribe what you saw and felt, digest it and construct your own visual narrative without betraying your subject. You show a display of great sensitivity. Black and white can only serve your visual rhetoric, it is never laborious or wind-broken, we never feel the photography behind the lens.

In the presented editing, it is particularly interesting to see there are different levels of reading and so different points of entry in the narrative: each picture brings a sense and can be read individually but also sometimes as a diptych or triptych and finally as a whole.
I see a visual unity that comes to link the reportage set beyond the formal unity of black and white. The first picture is an extraordinary expressionist pieta, the image is blurred and I was wondering if it was intentional, certainly it is as you are writing in your statement about the « soft touch of painting to the pictures ». This blurred participate to the strangeness of this portrait. 
This women is a direct echo to the following picture - a diptych? - with a man on the ground, in an abandonment posture. Those two pictures chosen for the series opening are a real entry key in your reportage: it is going to be about body and emotions, no physical performance.

You affirm it in your introduction text and you give us the proof with the image from the start.

The 3 following pictures form a sequence in triptych. The light is diffused. You help yourself with the luminous source of the large window, always on the right of the image, to draw the contours of your subjects and make him tense.

The choice of the framing of the following picture (the two women embraces) highlight the support gesture of one towards the other. 
This image and the following are the less strong of the series for me, they are more factual. If I compare the first picture of the women’ couples with the second presented in the editing, this last one is much more interesting: the two masses, one black, the other white, of the face and the bun, the tensed hand on the first plan, translate more intensely the compassion and empathy.

I find it clever to introduce close ups on the face details. In the construction of your reportage as you imagined it and staged it, we do not need to see the eyes to translate the emotion.

We end up on a picture with an original framing - no extremity in this body - a simple t-shirt that rise together with the subject jump - a little smile that sweeps the extreme right of the frame - hands going out of the frame.

The reportage could have brought out melancholy but the selection of this image as a ending comes to contradict this impression. it is the happy note that closes the representation, the artist salutation.

Learn to see and create your visual language from an intimate perception of the subject: you perfectly applied this workshop’s education. You’ve been a sponge with talent. Bravo.

I wish you to keep up in photography and more broadly in the image world. You have a place to take.

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