This portfolio is an exquisite lecture in the reading of patterns and the workings of analogies in our minds. Marie-Sophie Leturcq presents pairs of photographs with her observations in Singapour that focus on the presence (and absence) of nature in an urban environment dominated by high-rise buildings.
This conceptual focus carries a lot of meaning since it highlights the actual subtle but enduring presence of nature – be it small plants in pots or public parks between the high-rise buildings – in an urban environment at a time, when in international architecture we find a certain trend towards "green buildings" or "vertical gardening".
Even nature here is very orderly, seems well kempt and tended, but also strongly restricted to certain areas, be it in public space or in private homes. Generally, everything here is very clean and well kept in these photographs. No garbage, no damages, but neatly placed shoes and cleaned corridors. This is of significance since it carries cultural information and influences the entire mood of the series.
Another significant element is the juxtaposition of public and private space and – most noteworthy – the parallels between those two spheres. While the entire series can also be read as an exercise in reading patterns and recognizing parrallels, this echo of the "macrocosm" of the city in the "microcosm" of the private home is striking. The photography very clearly works with this in both composition and the cleverly selected pairs of images.
There is a very geometric eye at work here that not only sees the patterns, but also looks for the parallels when it comes to the counterpoint the organical forms – plants as well as clothing or shoes of the invisible tenants – make to the strongly vertical patterns of the architecture.
Altitude has a double point here since it is not only part of the thematic focus of the series, but also provides vantage points-of-view on certains patterns – or signs – that are rendered readable only when viewed from high above. But again here, marco- and microcoms meet when the look down on a doormat corresponds the view of the tarmac from high above. It is another sign of the quality of the selection and the pairing, that those two photographs were not put together, but put in different pairs and the viewers are left to make the connection from the visual memory themselves.
There is a lot that this series allows us to observe about our own perception of images in general and specifically of reading patters and interpreting images through analogies and cultural codes. The absence – although the high quality of Marie-Sophie Leturcq's street portraits might be missed – of humans is of course a well-made decision, since their presence through the ever so subtle signs of private life is much stronger that way.
One even more subtle aspect may be seen in the use of colour in this series. Colour does not bring itself into the foreground here, but when looking closer we find smaller corresponding coloured elements in the pairs of images. Colour in this subtle way of using it becomes an additional element of analogy that binds together the paired photographs, or – more precisely – makes them talk to each other.
This series is a great example of the combination of an interesting conceptual approach – that looks at a topic thoroughly while avoiding the spectacular – with an excellent execution. While some pairs are maybe slightly stronger than others – I would name my favorites and personal selection the numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, and 9 – this is a consistent series of good work. And it is well in tune with her other work, while maybe less eyecatching at first sight when compared to her street portraits from various cities, but no less rewarding on closer look.
I would recommend to follow – besides the continuation of the street portraits as especially those from Japan – along this line of work and to maybe look into possible combinations with landscape work especially like the one from Iceland. Maybe also a clearer separation of the more art-related photography and the more applied work on the website would be worth considering.