In A Perpetual Season, Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine captures in subtle and subdued colours the alienating blankness palpable in a significant part of the built environment. In turning the reader to face the lines and facades of modernity, and their impact on its inhabitants, he employs an invariably oblique approach in his gaze and position.
Architectural details are anthropomorphised, evoking human movements or stasis, while the positions of people, though captured en passant, recall, paradoxically, statuary that can’t be precisely dated. A persistent feeling arises while turning the pages: the people aren’t merely represented. Rather, they are made present, imbued with a peculiar kind of energy yet strangely detached from their immediate settings. Human presences cannot be contained by the surface of the page; their gestures, their postures –mostly profiles- lead us to other spaces. We are invited to traverse surfaces, to cross pages and follow the evolution of a gesture, be it via a glance, a posture, a concrete arabesque or a slanting line that descends from out of frame. This movement extends to aspects of the design of the book itself: the faded yet glowing blue at the frontispiece, end-papers and edges of the pages activates a mobile spatiality that animates them through chromatic continuity.
Pujade-Lauraine reveals by his shooting position the fluid potential of line formed by obdurate, cast-concrete shapes. The architect Claude Parent, who advocated the character of the oblique in his field, recalls that whereas we are enclosed in orthogonal spaces, the oblique provides us with the possibility of experimenting with the earth and defining our positions by displacement.
Notwithstanding the decrepit state of many of the locations, the profile of the people and the interactions between the two generate strong rhythmic movements and impulses, whether explicit or finely implied. While surfaces dissolve, oscillations between traces and accretions arise. The repeated diagonal shifts of pilotis, the upward zigzag of a concrete stairway, viewed from below, create directional movements, which carry from page to page, consolidating the book as a through-composed work. The interplay of curves, whether in ferro-concrete or human form, is replicated in the many shapes generated by the precise framing of corners and angles, doorways and enclosures, in such a way as to dwell on rhythm. The horizontal tension of people walking in opposite directions is echoed in vertical accents that create divisions in the image, momentarily separating the human presences into discrete spatial bands.
A frequent motif: faded or shabby modernism, crumbling facades in which the smooth, unifying cement has cracked and fallen away to reveal the component structures beneath. This chimes metaphorically with the time of the days in which the images were made: the twilight – perhaps afterlife – of modernism.
This review was published by photomonitor in September 2014