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Interview

Bertrand Cavalier: "I see photography as a medium of curiosity"

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
December 23, 2019
Nominated for Futures by FOMU Fotomuseum of Antwerp, Bertrand Cavalier (b.1989, France) is an artist living and working in Brussels, Belgium. His work investigates how political upheaval becomes visible in the urban landscape and how this affects the lives of the people who live in it.

“I see photography as a medium of curiosity. It allows me to reach people and situations I would not be involved with in my daily life,” explains.

In this interview, Bertrand talks about his career and inspirations:

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Can you explain us a little bit about your inspirations? What are the main themes in your practice?

I spent more time lately trying to understand who I am and what I stand for. To answer that question helped me to process what my artistic work is really about. I’ve always been interested by space and its political meaning, be it the architecture, urbanism or objects. I tend to be more attracted by the space surrounding an object than by the objects’ occupied space. As a photographer, I want that feeling for space to be visible in my photography. I always try to push further that perception of space over the book form or the exhibition. I guess the installations made for BredaPhoto and the FOMU’s exhibition are quite representative in that sense.

How do you see your relationship with photography? How do you deal with this medium to express your art?

I see photography as a medium of curiosity. It allows me to reach people and situations I would not be involved with in my daily life. Most of the time, I travel far away to find situations which I could actually find in my own city. To be far from home just helps me to open my eyes and dedicate my focus on a subject matter. It is usually just a matter of time so I can encounter relevant situations for a project.

Can you tell us a bit more about the projects that you have been working with?

'Concrete Doesn’t Burn’ (2018), ‘Space Between Us’ (2019) and ‘The Grid System’ (ongoing) are about the relation between people and architecture or urbanism. In ‘Concrete Doesn’t Burn’, I travelled among 11 European cities which were damaged by armed conflicts. I observed how the banality of urban space is actually rooted to warfare and thus influences the life of the people living among that space.

In ‘Space Between Us’, I went to the city of Bremen, in northern Germany to wonder about structures; how a structure looks like, how it can organise itself and by extent how social interactions also shapes architecture among the space we live in. The project was made in reaction to an utopian architecture drawn by architect Günter Günschel for the Teerhof in Bremen. The FRAC Orléans and curator Cornelia Escher commissioned the project for its connection with my other works.

‘The Grid System’ is photographed exclusively in New York city. The title directly refers to the city urbanism made of straight lines and 90 degrees angle. I’m using the megapolis as a metaphor for a rigid space, defined by economy and directing citizens’ behaviour. I believe the human being is an emotional and subjective mind which can’t fit to a rigid system established by history or political classes.

How has been the experience of being a talent selected for Futures? How can Futures help with your career?

It’s been a few years now that I had the chance to work with the support of the FOMU. In 2017, I participated to a residency at the museum during the event Braakland with my photographers’ collective La Grotte. The museum has always been of a strong support regarding young artists and they contribute to a great dynamic toward the Belgian art scene. The fact that they joined Futures pushed even further the support they can provide to young photographers and I’m grateful for all the opportunities we had in 2019.

Can you share with us a little bit about your plans for the future after being part of the platform? Do you have any new project in mind?

2019 has been quite intense, I travelled back and forth from New York to Bremen and  Brussels to keep going on toward ‘The Grid System’ and ‘Space Between Us’. The latter is currently exhibited at the FRAC Orléans for the architecture biennial Years of Solitude. I’m very curious to see how this project will evolve in terms of exhibitions or publication.

For 2020, I’ll finish photographing in New York and hopefully find room for other projects. Last but not least, will be the publication of my first book, ‘Concrete Doesn’t Burn’ with Fw:Books!

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