sylvain-emmanuel P., a French photographer, talks about Pina Bausch, the magic materiality of film and his many book projects. 



Part 01.




Maison Martin Margiela “Artisanale,” sylvain-emmanuel P. — 2012-13



Morning ...
Coffee & cigarette


Noon ...  
A palindrome, half beginning half ending


Night ...
Time


Perfect happiness ...
The end of a problem before another one comes


Blue Socks © sylvain-emmanuel .P  — 2009


Preposterous ...
Lowrider


Fear ...
To give up


Love ...
Impossible to summarize


Extravagance ...
Free time


Comedy ...
Life


   

Palindrome Collection, Maison Martin Margiela 10 & 14 © sylvain-emmanuel P. — 2010



Work ... 
Exchange


Our time ...
In between


The future ...
One step further in between


The past ...
Memory


Part 02.




Maison Martin Margiela “Artisanale,” sylvain-emmanuel P. — 2012-13



Most interesting thing in your wallet ...
Money when I have some.


In another life, you’d be …
I will improvise, we’ll see.


Palindrome Collection, Maison Martin Margiela 10 & 14 © sylvain-emmanuel P. — 2010



Your lucky charm ...
I don’t have one.


Words to live by ...
"What is reproached to you, cultivate it, it’s what you are.“


Prized possession ...
I don’t care


One wish ...
Another wish


Your most marked characteristic ...
Slow



Pina Bausch; Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club, New York , NY, May 1943 © Gordon Parks


A dream dinner party would be made up of who (dead or alive) ...
Lions, coyotes, hyenas, a couple of dictators having dinner in an empty swimming pool while Pina Bausch dances on the diving board to Duke Ellington.


Favorite shoes ...
Some old sneakers


Favorite store ...
Food, especially vegetable & fruit markets


Favorite friend ...
I don’t have a favorite one


Favorite place ...
My kitchen


Favorite color ...
The mix of black & navy



Larousse Gastronomique, Crown Publishers, Inc. — 1961


Favorite book ...
So hard, Larousse Gastronomique maybe


Favorite website ...

Google comes first


Maison Martin Margiela 10 © sylvain-emmanuel .P


A favorite photo that you've taken ...
I hope the next one.


A favorite photo that someone else has taken ...
Sorry it’s impossible to pick just one, there are so many I truly love.


Part 03.






Untitled © sylvain-emmanuel .P


You live in Paris. Tell me about it ...

Paris is not always an easy city to live in, and I fluctuate between a love/hate relationship with « her ».The good thing is the fact that there is not one Paris of course, but several ones, each different regarding the mood you’re in moving through the city.

One can’t deny that it’s an overwhelming monument full of tourists because of its incredible history and beauty, and all the « clichés » it brings in people minds, but it’s also a very challenging city, with different inspiring faces to live in and discover, with a lot of hidden places to catch and understand.

The most important thing for me is the possibility to embrace all of these different aspects, season after season, and it’s often when I come back from a trip to a foreign country or another big city that I realize how much I enjoy living here. It’s not about comparing Paris with other cities, or the fact that I might have missed it while traveling somewhere else on the planet. It’s hard to explain. It’s just I like to enjoy being at home again but with a different perspective on your home than the one you had before.

I’m also lucky enough to work within a quite international environment which entertains my culture and vision of the city day after day.




Pink 978e8f © sylvain-emmanuel .P; Red ab6d63 © Pennski — the "fake twins” project


You are working on a number of books. Tell me about them ...

I am working on two, three books it’s true, but I’m kind of stuck with them because I postponed their edition for too much time. It’s a hard exercise to compile photographs into a single volume, especially when you have a huge amount to reduce into an interesting progression. My aim is really to illustrate such an evolution, more than a single result. This is the way I would like to articulate a whole.

I definitely think photos work best in book form. One big deal I have at the moment is Salade, Tomates, Oignons? (Salad, Tomatoes, Onions?) which I am trying to display a bit like a diary. It’s composed of some of the photos I took at different periods which I find more poignant in an intimate, portable format. The pages sequential nature will be the main challenge, because even if some photos are of course very personal, I want to build a crystallized whole that leaves the possibility of interpretation open for readers to build their own stories and find their own connections.

The two other book projects deal with a totally different approach.

bLIND shows some more complex relations. I wondered what would come from those large format pictures when they’re side by side, in their progression. The idea to fix them in a book came from this wondering. bLIND photos were my first experiments with a large format camera, and it’s full of imperfections;  then here again, it’s all about a progression speaking from its own.

This work still talks about my personal life, but here a huge distance is given by anonymous figures, with all their strengths and vulnerabilities expressed in my environment. It’s an attempt to make a portrait not of those anonymous figures, but instead of the space they’re evolving in. It’s an attempt to verify how far we are defined by our own environment, and this is the complexity of such a project. In fact I want to produce some kind of environmental self-portraits, by blurring boundaries to the point the subject is not the figure anymore, even if it’s the only permanent element of the images through the book.

Last but not least is the “fake twins” project. It grew out of a couple of old pictures I took during the year 2000. I remember I was living in Rotterdam at that time, and it reminds me that’s the period I decided to really go into photography in a more “serious” way. It was my first attempt with a theme beyond each individual photograph, even if a big part of the work is based on hazard and travel.

For those reasons, and since I have become more introduced to the web lately, I decided to keep working on the project involving other photographers all around in order to make it grow.

My interest on it still so fresh, I like the way it changes with the featuring taking place a lot. I won’t for sure give up that one, but I know it will be a very long time before finalize it in book form.


           
Artisanale Collection, Maison Martin Margiela © sylvain-emmanuel .P — 2011


What camera(s) do you use ...

It depends and does not really matter. I have plenty of cameras, from 35mm P&S to large format 4x5 » all of them are analogue. I jump from one to another depending on my mood and the context.

I try to know them as much as I can, but also to stay far from too much automatism. In fact, I’m more interested in their leaks and defects than their qualities.

It’s mainly how I choose one to shoot with instead of another when I have to complete a set for instance. I often mix different formats for the same subject for instance, at least each time I am able to.

   

Uncanny Aparatus, Selected Works © sylvain-emmanuel .P — 2012


Talk about your choice to shoot on film ...

It’s simply the way I understand photography - the only way for me to keep my child’s eye on the subject.

Shooting film is all about inducing and getting a surprise as a resulting gift. It’s far more than just getting an image. There is always such a magic feeling when you get your film processed. It carries the whole materiality of a photograph as an object that you can touch and smell.

In my mind finally, film also captures light in a unique way that is essential/necessary to my perception of a subject to be photographed.  


PERRIER RONDELLE™. collection F-W © sylvain-emmanuel .P — 2010


Describe your creative process ...

There are no big words to say about it. I assume it’s mainly intuition which leads me to proceed one or another way. The most difficult thing for me is to trust myself enough to create something within simplicity.


Untitled © sylvain-emmanuel .P


Talk about future (dream) projects ...

I am starting a new interior design project which sounds really exciting and challenging, it will for sure take my whole dedication and energy for the coming months. In parallel I really wish to finally publish the books I am working on, and since we also planned to shift to the book form for Ping-Pong with Ana, thats for sure the premises of incredible discussions and exchanges between us !