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Interview

Maroussia & Valerio: "The author of the image is not just the one behind the lens"

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
October 9, 2019
Nominated for Futures by FOMU in 2019, Maroussia Prignot (b. 1981) and Valerio Alvarez (b. 1976) have been working together since 2015. Their collaboration began on the issue of migration, and more specifically the way in which migrants are received within the Belgian state. Considering that any image is a construction, and not a faithful reproduction of the "reality", their approach is integrative, setting up workshops, joint creation actions, trying to collaborate with those who make their photographs.

In this interview, they talk about their inspirations and career:

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

We are inspired by the work of many photographers. What interests us is their approach, their structure of work, their way of telling stories. On collaborative or participatory work, we can mention Jim Goldberg, Caroline Drake and Bieke Depoorter.

We also owe much to the teaching we received from Julian Baron and Max Pinckers, but also, to the more personal encounter with them, to the exchanges, which contributed largely to our way of considering the photographic medium.

Finally, we are also influenced by our initial training in the field of mental health. We work in psychiatry, as therapists, and this influences our relationship to the other, to alienation, to the slippage that can exist between subject and object. This attention pushes us to always question what photography generates as an effect. Our favorite themes are migration, reception, and resilience.

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

Our approach is articulated with the fact that the image is in no way a mere reproduction of reality. Every image is a construction. This is why we have decided to use all possible forms of images and intervention on it. We believe that such a work of form can allow for several levels of reading and therefore, more substantive access.

To take advantage of this state of affairs, we resort to "actions" that create, activate a space that becomes a pretext for meeting with the Other. These actions allow us to open our perception and allow ourselves to be transformed by the response of the other as a subject who participates in the creation of images. The author of the image is not just the one behind the lens. In this way, there is no sovereign author.

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

Being a talent selected by Futures has been the occasion for very interesting encounters, with other photographers or experts in the field of photography. It is also a rich opportunity to show our work, to talk about our approach, to circulate our images. This experience has put us at work, which is always very interesting.

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

Our new project also concerns people who apply for asylum in Belgium, but who are accommodated not in centers but in family housing made available by Social Action Centers (CPAS). Our wish is to focus on an event of their life, the one they want to tell us, for example a love story – rather than focusing on what makes trauma, on the war, on the path they did. All of this horror, we know about it; we simply open the Internet, or television to see the horror those people are struggling with.

The idea is also to work with their archive images, when they have some. We want to continue to include people in the work we do, to offer them to participate in one way or another in the construction of the image.

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