Pauline Alioua is a young photographer living and working in Marseille, France. She shares her love and passion for the world where she lives in and which she observes in silence or in crowd. Pauline likes to captures the details, colors, shapes, shadows, reflections, and things that make this world a playground. She’s going to have a show in Berlin in April with her series ‘Phantomatic’. The show will also be marked with the release of her book. It’s opening on 8th of April at Somos in Berlin. See the details here.
Chris Garvi took this interview of Pauline Alioua on behalf of PhotoArtMag. Chris is a French photographer and his wonderful images have been showcased earlier on PhotoArtMag. Here’s a short Q&A between them with a selection of images from Pauline’s various photo projects:
P.A. - Hi! I’m Pauline Alioua, I’m 30. I was born in Lyon and raised in the French Alps, in a town overlooking the Leman Lake. I got into photography when I was around 10. We travelled in trailer a lot with my family all over Europe.
My father was always carrying a film camera with him, a Minolta xG2. He took photos all the time. Watching him taking photos made me feel he could enter a parallel universe whom only he had the key. I remember him telling me about composition, how important it is to tell something in the frame. When we got back from our trips I was so looking forwards to processing the films : I was very much fascinated with all the technical aspects processing analog photography involved. I am still !
C.G. - How do you start a new project? Any critical approach?
P.A. - It depends really on the type of project. Some are long term projects, some are made on a shorter term-basis. Most of the time I already have the pictures. I like the idea of collecting my pictures, looking back at them until they fit into a project. Still, most of the series keep evolving and at some point I need new pictures : for instance I started the series ‘C(r)ash’ in summer 2015 after the Greece events. This series deals with social unfairness, corruption of politics, the greed of the financial world, the media’s censorship, and how a whole system is locked upon itself to strangle middle and low class people’s aspiration. As long as I feel anger towards this topic I will take pictures to feed that series. So it could actually be a life-long term project…
C.G. - What photography equipment do you use? Why?
P.A. - I started photography with my father’s camera, a Minolta. I’ve always loved film photography, as mentioned earlier. I had to get a digital camera mainly for work purposes and I felt it was easier when I was travelling. But I soon got fed up with digital as far as personal projects were concerned. I always had a Nikon F100. Lately I’ve been using a Nikon Fm2, which I really like.
C.G. - Framing and composition are obviously one fundamental aspect of your photography. Still, there’s much more than that. The narrative aspects throughout your projects are striking. How does the form serve the content?
P.A. - Thanks so much. Yes I do pay a lot of attention to framing and composition. I need something graphical. But I also need something to happen, something to tell within the frame I choose. In one word, one could not go without the other. Sure I need my photos to be well organised and well balanced and the elements should respond to one another but the narrative aspect is as important as the technical approach.
C.G. - You’ll have an exhibition in Berlin in April. Can you tell us more about it?
P.A. - I started a residency at SOMOS for a series ‘Phantomatic’ in Berlin from September 2015 to December 2015. It was a great experience and it’s a place that inspired me a lot. During that 3-month residency I really focused on this project. An exhibition will be held at the gallery, opening on the 8th April, 2016.
C.G. - Talking about ‘Phantomatic’, you chose to work in black and white. How did you make up your mind?
P.A. - This project is the expression of inner feelings such love, loss, pain, abandon… Shooting black and white made sense really : it’s the perfect way for revealing the abstract. By analogy I feel life is light, death is black and the mysteries that lay in between are shades of grey : waiting, desolation, wandering, solitude, wondering etc…
Black and white doesn’t really exist for the human eye, and this series also talks about this : do what I see is real or just a trick of my mind, a projection of what I desire, an illusion ?
C.G. – ‘Phantomatic’ is the story of the loss of a beloved one. Can you tell us more about it?
P.A. - What’s questioning me is what this story has left in me, what emotions shoot up from the separation. Then I questioned what I do see now, what is left there for me to see now that the other is gone, what visions, what interactions with the outside. It’s not only about losing someone. Not only a rupture but also the start of something else, something new, something virgin that I wasn’t expecting. The discovery of a new world, bare from its illusions.
C.G. - How did you choose your images for ‘Phantomatic’?
P.A. - I started the project a few months ago. I had never edited the images. They were somewhere in the back of my mind but I had never seen them properly. I was in Paris, lacking inspiration and suffering from a breakout. I felt I had to look at my past, go back to the pictures I had hardly seen. So I digged into them and the photos sprang up by themselves ! They would translate this state of mourning and loss I was looking for… and somehow led me into the process of healing. However, Some of the pictures were made after I started the project. I knew the kind of pictures I wanted so I took them according to what I had to tell.
C.G. - What is striking with your images is that they are not locked upon themselves. One can find a main line or a common thread al right but there’s always something else, something more, something magical, something each and everyone can decipher or interpret differently. They stand like questions much more than answers given to the reader… Is this done consciously?
P.A. - Thanks! That’s true, I’m not interested in giving answers but rather to interrogate. My images are simple, they are not spectacular. They are visions from the daily life but I want to bring them up to a poetic dimension. I prefer my images to echo in people’s intimacy, to connect them to their inner emotions, their own life experience, also their condition as human.
C.G. - ‘Phantomatic’ will be published in a book in April. Can you tell us more about it ?
P.A. - ‘Phantomatic’ will be self-published in 100 copies. The book is made of 44 photographies. The 5 first copies will be accompanied with a signed print…The book will be available at the exhibition and online too by contacting me.
C.G. - What inspires you?
P.A. - I’m inspired by a lot of things. To be short… Poetry, Antonioni’s cinema, the dust through the light, the poetry of Pessoa, the flames, Ogawa Yasuhire, the surrealism, Gena Rowlands, the sea, Gandhi, travelling by motorbike, the sand, Janis Joplin, thunder, Diane Arbus, Ansel Adams, dark humor, green tea, humility, generosity.