All images © Lucas Olivet and courtesy of Gallery Jörg Brockmann
Apr 30, 2018
Lucas is a young Swiss photographer who creates elusive narratives where room for interpretation is a central part. In his work, Lucas reveals to us some facts, but it is for us to connect the dots and discover the story that lies beneath the surface. "Kopiec Bonawentura" tells the story of "Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko", a Polish militar who fought and travel in Europe and America alike.
Following we present an interview that we had with Lucas:
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
LO - I'm based in Geneva, Switzerland and graduated from the "Vevey School of Photography". My new series "Kopiec Bonawentura" is coming up with a book and a show at the next "Rencontres d'Arles" in July. Currently, I'm participating in an artist residency program from "Nairs Contemporary Art Center" in the Engadin region (CH), making my own bubble from pre-prod, prod and post-prod from different projects. I like to feel in-between things, a good way to evolve my work and not letting go any series. By the way, my sign is Cancer and I'm very talkative when it comes to Photography!
am - How did you start in photography?
LO - As far as I remember, art always mattered to me. I used to draw a lot, abstract stuff, and was already thinking on the edge of the frame. Then I shot a few rolls with single use cameras as a child during our holidays, and was very impressed how blurry or sharp could something appear. Later when traveling, photographing my friends during my teenage years seemed an easy way to find a voice. But when starting school having to deal with a 4x5 camera, and to envision a job between the analog-digital era, was just the beginning of a huge struggle about how hard is to pursue photography indeed.
am - What inspires your work?
LO - 1. Looking for a specific type of narrative: one that is elusive, with space for interpretation but well driven by an idea and imagery.
2. The very old thought that suggested that travel could be used as a medium of discovery, and how you deal with it in a global world.
3. Also painting, the idea that a pattern can bring you to a whole purpose. Which means that if something is striking you mind for a long time, you start thinking about how could it be done through a lens without being able to define it before experiencing it, this means the right path for me!
I'll give you 2 examples of mine: one of my series has been to challenge such a distracting subject as Nature around a forest lake in Canada. Most of the pictures I took were made in a canoe. When I first exhibited this body of work I just realized that my main subject was the relationship with the canoe, the first inspiration, the pattern was the canoe itself. Same with my last series "Kopiec Bonawentura" who took its roots from the visual impact of an man-made hill in Poland.
am - What is “Kopiec Bonawentura” about?
LO - The whole work could be reduced to a quote by the French author Alfred Jarry from its play "Ubu Roi" (1896): «Set in Poland, that is to say nowhere.» I build a multiple and transnational answer, somewhere between Poland and the exile lands of its diaspora called Polonia. I've be driven by a Polish legend, the one of "Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko" that historians call «the last knight» or «the first citizen of the world». The series examines the uncertainties of memory, notion of permanence and identity with a very personal narrative using text, –mine and some quotes– and songs excerpts. When making a broad project like "Kopiec Bonawentura" I realized that Photography is only a matter of possibilities.
am - How would you describe your visual language?
LO - Living and intimate. Looking for a fusion between the banal and something out of this world.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
LO - It varies a lot, and just a few of them would always remain.
A lot of my favorites are actually the ones that I know I'm far away from their imagery but I'm totally possessed by their way of thinking and expression, like the sculptor David Altmejd. Probably one of the best narrative artist of his generation somehow.
Otherwise in Photography I always go back to Sophie Ristelhueber's work, such a strong harmony between a concept, the process and its display. I also feel like I could live all of my life with a picture on the wall by Bertien van Manen, and at the end it would be like a memory of mine, a picture I would have carried in my wallet as well. This is one of the most sensitive works I have seen. Regarding how a picture could talk to you, I think Roe Ethridge is the wizard of the sequencing process, somewhere between a wake up call and amnesia. Ok, one last name on Contemporary Photography: Ron Jude.
am - What are your main interests as an artist?
LO - The idea to describe in a particular way what relationship
exists between a lambda community and its territory, how much space
you could create to tell a story that already exists or that is generated by the images themselves during the process, with or without text.
More philosophically, the idea that the representation of a place and an object
can both be the same.
I feel very comfortable using photography because it has its own twilight zone
between art and document. To me there's so much neutrality, doubt and non-authority
in an image, and it is a true benefit to blur lines and offer some time and reflexion to the viewer.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
LO - Let's say "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" by Parajanov. One of my first series took place in the Carpathian mountains, maybe this explains why.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
LO - You kept the hardest question for the very end, that is so cruel!
There you go, I guess that the book that really pushed me to try by myself the book media was "The Pond" by John Gossage. I was a passionate and unfortunately "know-it-all" student and I remember being very annoyed by this book at first, going back and forth to have a look at it. Then I started realizing that some of the images were here to talk more about the feeling of sequencing and it had nothing to do with the picture purpose to be hanged on a wall. And in a way, I found my voice through that very simple fact: once you're a photographer you better be good in the after work, when you are your own editor, and it is a hard work!
And in this field, I can't help it but I'll name two other names that brought me broader and new ideas for book editing: Roe Ethridge and Jason Fulford. Can I talk about "A shimmer of possibility" as well from Paul Graham since he has several books? Ok I get it, this time I'm not writing in a discussion forum Online!
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.