by Dilpreet BhullarNov 02, 2022
The nocturnal life with its uneasy impenetrable beauty serves as a repository of exploration to know what remains invisible to a large human tribe, for the French photographer Alexis Pichot. The presence of light—the medium to express the work of photography—and the spatial expanse of the night have continued to be of constant importance in his works. After being an interior designer in Paris for more than a decade, Pichot is well versed in the “use of space", which has given him a way to experiment with the “volume” in photography. Bound to the jungle of a city, Pichot approaches the play of nature with a sense of contemplative silence and cacophonies of modern society. Both sites as a potent of “regeneration” have been translated in the visual media of a photograph to narrate an anecdote on what is metaphorically absent from the naked eye despite being present all the time.
As a photographer, the element of light is not just an element of the production process, but also the central subject of his photographic practice. In an interview with STIR, Pichot elaborates on his interest to work with the element of light, “To date, the night is the universe where my character of creative explorer takes all its place. I like to dive alone to discover nature and reveal its nocturnal face. I consider nature as my photo studio, photographing at night requires me to use long exposure and to intervene with my own lighting to reveal, model, and underline the landscape like a face... I like the idea of making portraits of nature.”
Marche Celeste is a result of living in the forest of Fontainebleau for more than a year. The 'nocturnal immersions' to which the work refers is an encounter with the raw pallet of sensorial pleasures. These are instrumental to gauge the necessary fascination and familiarity with the sliver of time gone by in the face of soaring modernity. “The series Marche Céleste was the greatest immersion I have ever experienced, going alone at night in the forest and confronting myself to a new world," explains Pichot. His night photography invites us to dive and enter a universe that is a priori unknown. This is how he imagines an immersion to be, to enter a space where we leave our knowledge at the door and be ready to open ourselves to a new horizon and welcome it.
The Insula series was created in France on the coast of Normandy and Brittany during full moon nights. The series Insula, a Latin term for 'island', refers to the upholder of emotions, both distanced yet connected to the human mind. Talking about the synergy of emotions which contradict, transform and connect, which leads to Insula, Pichot’s website reads, “water’s energy can sometimes be fire when it becomes fog or foam and envelopes me in the feeling where everything is connected, like the white matter of the brain carrying messages between neurons." Having lived by the water for three years, Pichot is taken away by the ineffable effect of water on the senses of the body. To visually transcribe this onto the photographs is to witness the upheaval of emotions at the borderline of chaos and settlement.
Given the coastal area, the series was not a simple task to undertake. In terms of execution, it came with its own set of challenges. “The major difficulty was to organise the night shots following the scouting I did during the day. At the time of the full moon (and the new moon), the phenomena of high tides take place, which means that the sea rises very high and falls very low. I had to be able to take a picture of the island that I had located at the right height of the sea with a favourable axis of the position of the moon so that it would glitter on the sea. The main advantage is to be alone in front of the sea, the sky and the moon and to feel in connection with these elements, with the infinite horizon,” admits Pichot.
When asked about the final takeaway after watching the works, Pichot affirms it is not a simple question to answer. Perhaps he concedes it could be answered in accordance with the feedback he has received until now. “Such as the call to nature, the link that unites us to it, to take the time to look at it and to enter into a contemplative state, to immerse oneself and let oneself be enveloped by what is offered to us. I will add the fact that night is beautiful and secure, so go in nature at night and live the experience,” confirms Pichot.
Earlier this year, the Insula series was on view at Galerie Daltra in Megève, France. Pichot's next exhibition is taking place in France from June 3-25, 2023, during the festival Les Mesnographies. The artist is presenting the photographic series Blossom, co-created with photographer Isabelle Chapuis, as an outdoor exhibition in the park of the city of Les Mesnuls, near Paris.