Looking for Places that Speak to Us

[Fall 2022]

By Jacques Doyon

Walking in the city, travelling down country roads, discovering the country, exploring foreign capitals – in short, getting moving – we confront different perspectives, contextualize or a rm our values, and take the measure of the world we live in. Such mobility, such constant travels, are the basis for the works brought together here, which are rooted in the desire to show the underside of America, to invert the icons of planetary tourism, or to take stock of the hypertrophy of major urban centres.

For Highway Kind, Justine Kurland drove the highways of the United States, far from big cities, photographing mainly men – though not only – and their fascination with cars and trains, with an interest in alternative lifestyles. Her son, Casper, had travelled with her since a very young age, but a gap was now opening between them. The publication of these excerpts, focusing on him, o ers an opportunity to reflect on her maternal anxieties about her son’s future, but also more generally about her concern for young men in a country torn apart by antagonistic values. These anxieties are echoed by Moyra Davey, also a mother raising a boy, who comments on the images in this portfolio based on her own experience.

Since 2015, Chun Hua Catherine Dong has been creating performances at different iconic places in global cities (buildings, public squares, monuments, and so on). She lies on the ground, each time covered with a different silk blanket embroidered with traditional Chinese motifs, and is photographed in front of these places emblematic of the triumph of urban life. I Have Been There also distorts the common tourist snapshot and the ubiquitous sel e by displaying an unusual bodily presence that exposes attributes of an original culture. The result is a strong affirmation of identity in the public spaces of increasingly homogeneous metropolises. The New York photographic performance is part of a series produced in fifteen countries, thirty-six cities, and more than three hundred sites.

There is little human presence in Pierre Blache’s images of cities, except at a microscopic scale or in his evoking of cubicles for living or lit windows. Instead, he depicts the city itself as a living organism formed of networks (electricity, transportation, ventilation, and so on) and living modules clumped together. The points of view are distant, from dizzyingly high or low angles, as if to signal how humans are overwhelmed by the cities that they have created to live in, and in which they search for a bit of humanity. These images evince a kind of astonishment at the dehumanization of megalopolises, which seem to harbour life only at the very top or deep in their entrails.

By strolling, by wandering, we find places that tell us who we are, which we can appropriate and, ultimately, reshape.
Translated by Käthe Roth

[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 121 – WANDERINGS ]