Jan 27, 2020
Unforeseen is a photographic duo founded by Fabien Fourcaud and Clement Chapillon, which focuses on documentary photography with an artistic regard. On their project "The Shade Promises", Fabien and Clement take a look at the traditional coffee growers in Ethiopia and the challenges that they face. With a minimal and emotional style, the images captured by Unforeseen are a great testimony of the events that they document, since besides their revelatory nature they are aesthetically very pleasant to observe.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
U - Unforeseen is a documentary studio founded by Fabien Fourcaud and Clement Chapillon that propose a unique and sensible look at our territories. We build narratives based on the layout of the land which also explores the imaginary that emanates from it. Our documentaries are reflections of our own subjective vision, our sensitive being, that can be told with several mediums: photography, sounds, videos or writings.
am - How did you start the Unforeseen duo?
U - Instagram is not only a good way to show your own work and discover other photographers, sometimes it can be the starting point of a new adventure. In 2017 Clément sent me a private message to invite me to talk during a conference at the Circulation(s) photo festival. Two conferences, 3 festivals and many beers later we decided together to start the adventure of Unforeseen to build documentaries that propose another vision of our territories. We are a perfect example of how social media might be a little more than just a promotional platform.
am - What is “The Shade Promises” about?
U - In Ethiopia, there is an old kingdom where the coffee was born and where it might die. Today, this rural land is still inhabited by coffee farmers. Coffee is everything for them, it’s way more than just an economic activity, it’s the main part of their culture. But it could not last forever because of a worldwide scourge. If you ask a farmer, there is nothing more real than climate change. Global warming affects the soil and flowering of their coffee trees. Each year, coffee production decreases a little bit more and if the coffee is in danger, the whole people are in danger too. Facing such a promised dark future, some decided to leave their land and move where international investments are more active. On the opposite, others decided to stand together and fight. They bring back ancient practices and also collaborate with agroforestry experts, searching for solutions to save the coffee.
In January 2019, we had an assignment from an agroforestry company called "Pur Projet" and their main partner in Ethiopia, Nespresso, who helped coffee farmers to plant 530 000 trees in the Sidama district. This travel was the occasion for us to dig and find testimony about this Ethiopian critical situation.
am - What inspires your work?
U - When we start a project, we always go back to our photography heroes like Stephen Shore or Joel Sternfeld, but also more contemporary stuff like Alec Soth. It’s always the starting point. But we need to complete this base by digging into local photography. How as a European photographer could we honestly testify about an African situation? How to deal with a foreign gaze and avoid the usual cliché? Regarding this point, Denis Dailleux's portraits had an important influence on "The Shade Promises" project. Then we try to open our inspiration sources not focusing only on photography. Cinema, poetry, painting, music, and every other artistic medium that might generate images in our mind.
am - How would you describe your visual language?
U - It would be easier to describe separately our visual language. One playing with spaces, suspended time and melancholy, the other digging into emotions and a sensible relationship to the subject. This series is the first result of common work and we tried with our own sensitivity to capture some unforeseen situations or objects.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
U - Photographers from the New topographics, Koudelka and many more! But we recently had two crushes: Sheron Rupp and Morgan Ashcom. We really loved their last books and we hope to see their work in an exhibit soon!
am - What is your favourite movie?
U - It would probably be a movie from Godard, or maybe Tarkovski, or Coen brothers, or Cronenberg.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
U - How to choose? So let’s talk about our 2019 favorite book: "The land in between" by Ursula Schulz-Dornburg. It had a major influence on our Studio projects.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
U - Thanks for your interest at our work :)
All images © Unforeseen Studio