Nov 26, 2018
Mélanie is a French photographer who creates visual narratives drawing inspiration from the vernacular and the concept of 'the otherness'. In her series "Wander in the woods", Mélanie explores the Slovenian identity through the story of Martin Kœurpane, a Slovenian hero who, after fighting for the Habsburg, decided to return to a peaceful life as a farmer in northern Slovenia. Using the vernacular as her scenery, Mélanie has created a series of beautiful images, which portrays the daily life in the countryside and at the time makes us think about our past history and the future that we have to face by becoming more and more urban creatures.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
MD - Born in 1981 in La Rochelle, I live and work between Paris and Lyon. I graduated from the School of Fine Arts (Rennes, France, 2006), and obtained a Higher Competitive Exam in Education in Visual Arts, with Photography as a major subject (Aix-en-Provence, France, 2010). Ever since, I have shared my work between artistic orders, teaching and personal research. I've exhibited my work in France and abroad.
am - How did you start in photography?
MD - I started photography at the School of Fine Arts, but I used it before, especially when I was a kid, because there was a dark room at home.
am - What inspires your work?
MD - I observe Man and the vernacular otherness. Especially, the wild as a conquest of the real. My work bears reference to that particular history which links photography and exploration. I suggest that, in an age where everything has been charted and every frontier has been crossed, the only discovery left is inside the image itself. Going towards the unknown, crossing borders, to find a visible limit and increase a point a view, are my goals. Then, I begin stories, I document within an elliptical shape. My approach is contemplative. I look intensively to find into the world an image – images – of what I feel into myself. Taking the road it’s looking for the wild, it’s changing landmarks and customs, it’s re-evaluating perceptions, it’s facing one’s fear to reveal the outlines of what limits us. So, the expedition raises metaphysical stakes, political and environmental reflections, and the journey takes on an unexpected thickness.
am - What is “Promenons-nous dans les bois” about?
MD - "Wander in the woods" is about a folk tale to speak about the consciousness of the others. Martin Kœurpane is the fiction’s character written by Franz Levstik. He is the most famous Slovenian hero. Martin Kœurpane stood up for the Habsburg Empire and despite his victory he chose to return to his Slovenian farmer life. This tale is the real story of the reconciliation between the German nobility and the Slovenian people, mostly peasants. It reminds the complexity of Slovenian identity. Carinthia was colonized by the Slavs. But it lost its autonomy and was under the control of the Habsburgs. The region was populated by German speakers and Slovenians. Today Slovenian Carinthia is a traditional but unofficial region of northern Slovenia bordering Austria. The word « Slovenian » discerns Austria from Slovenia. "Wander in the woods"… while the wolf is not here… is a psychological exercise that involves the theory of mind. It explains how a man proceeds to represent the world. This learning involves becoming aware of our differences with the others. However, this consciousness of the others allows the otherness…
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
MD - The main photographers I love are Mike Brodie, Sam Contis, Matthew Genitempo, Adam Jeppesen, Rinko Kawauchi, Christian Patterson, Alec Soth, Carly Steinbrunn, and Carleton E. Watkins.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
MD - One of my favourite movies is "Once Upon a Time in America" by Sergio Leone.
am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?
MD - Yes, I would like to return to America. It’s a project about the border and about one of the most popular fictions of the 19th century in America.
am - Can you recommend us a photo book?
MD - One of my favourite photobooks at the moment is "Jasper" by Matthew Genitempo and published by Twin Palms Publishers.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
All images © Mélanie Desriaux