Marie-Sophie Leturcq

Marie-Sophie Leturcq

...un fil rouge à la Recyclerie

by Marie-Sophie Leturcq (France)

La Recyclerie de la Porte de Clignancourt est un lieu alternatif où la ferme urbaine permet la création d’un refuge de biodiversité.
Il fait bon y manger au milieu des plantes.
Lorsque j’y suis allée pour photographier mes impressions du lieu, j’ai cherché un fil rouge pour guider mon regard…

Portfolio from the The Creative Eye workshop with David Burnett, April 2016.

Written review by ANDREAS J. HIRSCH,
Independent curator, writer and photographer

So we follow Marie-Sophie Leturcq to a place called "La Recyclerie de la Porte de Clignancourt", a place in Paris where she seems to feel at home. Or is it us immediately feeling at home in this place that her series of photographs creates in our minds?

We see only small sections of the space, certain kinds of "close-up" in a technical as well as in an emotional sense of the word. An intimacy is created, a feeling of having been there and wishing to return. What is it? The presence of plants and (some) animals? Or the vintage quality of the pieces of furniture? There is a calm and relaxed mood across the entire series, a mood reflected in the compositions of the photographs. Recurring patterns, balanced frames, shapes more in harmony than in contrast to each other, shapes enclosing, as if protecting each other. And always – not showing everything, calmly concentrating on what is before us.

The framing feels like an ode to the 50mm-lens (whether actually one was used or not), often linked to the field of perspective closest to the human eye. An act of self-restriction or – rather – of concentration.  The series is strongest where this concentration in the framing is sustained. The people in the pictures are all of them occupied with something, we watch them passing by, or concentrating on something. The only person more or less fully visible from front is the woman reading. The laptop in the foreground is waiting .. little technology is visible, it is there, casually, but is is not important now.

These should be enough elements to hold a series of photographs together – this kind of unity of place and time that we may feel. But Marie-Sophie Leturcq looked deeper than that. She looked for what she described as "un fil rouge pour guider mon regard". In English "a golden thread running through". But that does of course not fully capture it, since it is in fact a "read thread", which is running through the entire series.

The presence of the colour "red" can be anything from highly obvious to more subtly embedded in the composition. Somehow the more subtle presences are the nicest and strongest, like the bottles of water with the porcelain caps and their small rings of red rubber, or the woman in passing with only a fraction of her red brasserie showing through a gap of her dress. Let us not speculate too much on the emotional meaning of the colour "red", but rather look at the photographic implications of this "red thread".

This use of "red" remotely links the series with the history of colour photography, reflected in movements like "New Colour" in the 1970ies. Marie-Sophie Leturcq does not seem to conceptually reference this, but she somehow freely works with aspects of such colour usage, in the best moments with subtle counterbalances of the red elements with the "other" colour in the picture. To single out the colour "red" as the conceptually binding element is also vaguely remindful of the – historic – colour reversal film material from Kodak, the Kodachrome 64, where the reds in the picture gained special weight – technically as well as aesthetically.

The subject of this entire series, by the way, is an interesting one: urban farming, biodiversity in the big city, a culture of recycling – a multitude of encouraging alternatives to a destructive, poisonous and hectic urban way of living. But such a subject could easily be depicted with imagery bordering on cliché – from counterculture to back-to-nature. So it is not an easy subject, but one worth while devoting a series of photographs to. An interesting, mature and also courageous choice of subject avoiding the omnipresent imagery of urban desaster and entropy.

But let us return to the photographer's words: "un fil rouge pour guider mon regard". Looking at it again this points us to a photographic strategy instead of a way of just editing existing material. It reflects a way of looking at the world, openly and without preconception, but searching for a binding element that would then guide the photographer's view. This is beautifully put in words – and in photographs (!) – what is often lacking in portfolios and photographic projects: The ability to work with a visual strategy that is not preconceived but still shapes the photography. And is then resulting in photography like this one very well tuned to the subject, quickly immersing us into the world shown.

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