Photography was in the air in Paris a few days ago, thanks to the international art fair, Paris Photo (8th to 11th of November). But also thanks to the Bruno Fournier book launch of Bataille at Le Petit Oiseau va sortir, in the 11th district. This work put together 15 years of the series "Guerrières," which follows the same three themes by the photographer: derision, strength, and nudity.
After a career in advertising, alongside Aaron Jones in San Francisco and Michel Comte in Paris, Bruno Fournier started to shoot fashion for magazines such as Jalouse, Marie-Claire, Madame Figaro, Vs Mag, Icon, Flaunt, Urban, Surface, and Vogue Gioiello. We are also proud to count him among SPOON's contributors. As a specialist of movement pushed to his maximum, he offered us his vision of female power and freedom with a touch of eroticism and humor. Shot in black and white with a film camera, Bruno Fournier's strong Amazons run, jump, and scream with nothing on them but unexpected accessories like a skull, gun, or wheel rim. Accessories that were part of a scenography imagined by Cécile Strouk and José Lévy, which you could discover while Bruno Fournier signed your beautiful new acquisition: Bataille.
Photo credits include @atnprod and @kimsaskiaalaux
Women at war? Where does this sudden intrusion of the battlefield into your photo career come from?
It is not a sudden intrusion, it has been over 15 years since I started the Amazon project. I am a fashion photographer and I was looking for a personal project about women’s empowerment. To pay a tribute to some women who were around me as a child. A tribute to all those women who are fighting to be free. I didn’t want to do any portraits or landscapes and as I have a facility to capture movement, it came very naturally to shoot women but this time naked with accessories that carry special meanings.
You have got a certain sense of timing, news, headlines, that seem to confirm that women are at war: what is your position as a photographer? Since you mostly evolved in fashion, you certainly have a point of view on what is it to be a woman in that field.
I don’t know about a sense of timing but it seems human beings always fought for more freedom and justice and I think women are the spearhead of this cause. They have to fight much more to get the same thing. Because in our culture, our education, it seems men don’t like much equality because they feel threatened, which of course is wrong. More freedom for women means more freedom for everyone! Freedom has to be shared, civil rights too. There is no limit at all. I wanted to show strength is everywhere, in the masculine and also feminine.
Another tricky question: you mostly take pictures of models, (male, or female) naked. Don't you feel we live a paradoxical moment of history with hypersexualized images everywhere, and at the same time, some kind of a soft moral of censorship pressure, bringing us back? (Not being able to show nipples on Facebook or Instagram, is a perfect example) How do you deal with this, or maybe you just don't care at all?
I don't care, it is not a problem to mask nipples, social networks are a good way for me to show my work to a larger audience, and if the people want to see my photos without censorship, they just go to my website, or on Ello :-).
The women I photographed in this project don’t have any sexual behavior or erotic attitudes, it is not the statement in my photos; especially the ones in studio. Their nudity is here to incarnate a certain vulnerability that becomes, at one point, a strength.
Another paradox: digital processes in the photography field are pretty mature, aren't they? But you opted for continuing to do things "old school": analog cameras, film, chemistry, paper, etc., even if it is, less affordable, more complicated. I know that's a bit provocative: is that really worth it? Is that really matters, couldn't you reach the same results, without all the fuss?
First I really like black & white and I think handmade prints are still different. In my opinion, they have more aesthetic and philosophical value than digital.
I like to work with my analog camera, Hasselblad, which is a medium format camera. I work a lot with instinct. I think they are too much control with digital that kills creativity. When I work with my Hasselblad camera, I am so concentrated on the manual focus, adjustments, making the right frame that it seems I am out of time.
And when I look at the contact sheets a couple of days after, I discover images that I don’t remember ever taking. This is more when I shoot on location, especially on the beach with all those rocks.
When I shoot in a studio with a very precise idea it is different; I am more into a repetitive gesture to get the perfect picture. Of course, we still can get some surprises but I get pretty much the photo I was looking for.
Tell us about your recent works, project you enjoyed the most, and what is next? How do you plan things, like this book, is it the end of long-term project, or do you prefer when things are more spontaneous and quick?
Lately, I have been doing some fashion works for clients (with a digital camera) and I have a couple of ideas to keep working on this nude project, and the book BATAILLE is the beginning of something bigger, something that could help women to feel stronger, to trust their inner power. We have done an amazing show last week to present it in Paris, it was an installation, mix of photos, objects, video, volume. I’m thinking about continuing exhibiting them during art fairs, artistic events, etc.
What is a question you always wanted to answer, about you or your work, that nobody ever asked?
All the unexpected questions have already been asked by my agent Cecile Strouk, who forces me because of her endless curiosity to put philosophical words on my artistic work.