In voller Blüte
Jean-Vincent Simonet is one of our favorite non-German photographers. His powerful and colorful imagery has found a home in his recent book entitled In Bloom.
Having a close look at emerging photography with a strong voice is our job at Achtung Mode as we see ourselves as a photo fashion magazine. And we have known for a while that ECAL in Lausanne – where our chief photographer Walter Pfeiffer teaches – is a hot spot for new talent.
We have worked with Jean-Vincent in the past for Sepp and FAZ Magazin and on the occasion of the publication of In Bloom our market director Evelyn Tye spoke to him.
Achtung Digital: So tell me about this book?
Jean-Vincent Simonet: In Bloom is my latest project I recently published with SPBH editions. It’s a book of 132 pages, offset printed. SPBH stands for Self Publish, Be Happy.
To be exact, In Bloom materialized after I first visited Japan in September 2016. Nights spent in Tokyo and Osaka were an intoxicating assault on the senses for me. For me, Japan has always had almost mythical status. My images – of which all are original analogue photographs – are transformed through experimental manipulations.
AD: Why did you give it that title?
JVS: It refers to the cities themselves blooming like flowers, but also to a Nirvana song I was always singing during Karaoke.
AD: Tell us more about the stories behind the images?
JVS: I did a lot of traveling, starting from the basic Karaoke nights in Tokyo to some really weird and edgy private clubs in Aoyama. Being with the Japanese totally changes your perception of a city as there are tons of hidden places.
I also did a crazy rave party in the countryside of Osaka. 24 hours of Acid music with the weirdest Japanese crowd. Difficult to put words to it. Love hotels in Dogenzaka with their interiors were a nice place to shoot, and as they are strictly anonymous everyone can enter them. It’s quite difficult to build real friendship in Japan. I guess I was really lucky. I first met a couple (Reiji and Tomono), they were older than me. He is a photographer and she is working as an illustrator. They are living in Tokyo and Osaka and really aware of all the free parties going in the countryside. They took care of me during all my trip, introducing me everywhere. We were meeting every weekend, mostly outside Tokyo.
I also met Aki, a young, red-haired guy in a bar in Tokyo. He was working in a really small bar in Ebisu and knew the party scene, so once again I was just following him. Those people allowed me to escape from places crowded with tourists.
AD: Tell us more about your creative process?
JVS: From the beginning when I take photos, my eye has always been chasing a kind of sensuality. I guess, I also try to step away from a traditional kind of beauty. In the book a lot of pictures I selected are really grainy, under-exposed and blurry. I find sensuality in this aesthetic, using photography more as a kind of painting. The question of touch is also important, in fact a full sequence of pictures in the beginning of the book is deformed using a special printing process. I use plastic foil with inkjet printer, the prints get all wet and drippy. It’s really something physical. Then I wait for a certain amount of time and wash the prints. You can find fingerprints, dust and lots of element taking the image out of a digital context. I guess it’s also a reaction facing the digital flow of picture surrounding us, especially in Japan.
Moreover, I have always been interested in a different kind of process to transform the original photographic object. For In Bloom, I did not wanted to use any digital techniques, as Japan in particular Tokyo are already seen as technological places. Therefore, I had a really organic experience when I was there. So the entire book is made using analogue 35mm and middle format cameras. The cover and portrait section are made using epoxy resin to create this glitter / thunder effect, referring to some old video games. The architectures are made using this hijacked inkjet printing technique I explained before. For the last sequence, I also recreated a kind of darkroom with transparent prints and some torchlights. It gives some kind of retro feeling, which goes against the hyper-techno Tokyo. I like the fact that you loose a bit of the time stamps.
AD: What does the publication of this book represent for you at this level of your career?
JVS: For me this publication is a tool to expand visibility and to get more exhibitions and commissions. The project is still evolving as I discover new printings techniques every week. But it’s important to have something fixed in time like a book. Then people can have clear idea of what you are doing.
AD: Next project?
JVS: A group exhibition in Vienna curated by Stefanie Moshammer in December, also a solo show at Webber London, also in December 2018.