For the past 7 years, Lauren Marsolier has been working on a series of photographs called Transition. Her photographic tableaux, which are part composite and part digitally-altered, communicate a constant sense of ambiguity. The viewer, who is somewhat unsettled, wonders what is real and what is fictional in compositions where skies are flattened out, where everything is smooth and desolate, where shapes and textures take the place of people. After capturing the image of different settings, Marsolier seamlessly blend them together to offer a vision of recomposed reality.
How did the Transition project get started?
Around 2005, a series of radical changes in my personal life threw me into a troubled phase that changed my outlook on things. This is around the time that I started to compose fictional landscapes. Bit by bit, I realized that my compositions reflected what I was going through psychologically. To me, that’s a fascinating aspect of art. You resonate with what you create. Thoughts and emotions that were buried inside of us manifest themselves to our consciousness through making art. In turn, these little breakthroughs influence the way you think. That’s how our creations can hold up a mirror to us, even as a collective. We live today in a world that is almost entirely man made. The increasingly artificial nature of our environments means that, more than ever before, they are a reflection of the mind. This is why I can easily establish a link between the components of our contemporary landscapes and the expression of a mental state.
What is it about landscapes and all the signifiers linked to roads that interests you?
I’ve been working on the idea of transition for about seven years, and more specifically on that psychological phase when the loss of certain reference points throws us into an emotional confusion. All of a sudden, we can no longer see ourselves or our lives and what surrounds us in the same way. We feel disoriented.
The landscapes that I build in photographs have a metaphorical dimension for me. They allow me to explore and express the inner experience, all while conjuring the reality of a changing world. Indeed, the road is often present in my work. You find it constantly deserted and without movement. Freeway, for example, touches on doubt, the questioning in that paradoxical situation of finding yourself alone and stuck on a road when it would be easier to give in to the intoxication of speed. You can read this picture from a personal or social point of view.
We live today in a world that is almost entirely man made. The increasingly artificial nature of our environments means that, more than ever before, they are a reflection of the mind.
Your work seems to reference Paul Virilio, when you refer to the themes of speed and hyper-reality, and to Baudrillard in the idea of the simulacrum. Does your work have other references, such as painting or photography?
That’s exactly right. In fact, I find that Baudrillard’s quote highlighted in your magazine (Garagisme #1), “Above 100 kilometres per hour, there is a presumption of eternity”, has a link to my work. On the road as in life, speed puts us in a state of weightlessness. Images and events pass too quickly for us to be able to correlate them and truly make sense of them. You somehow feel that you have been pulled out of time, in a hypnotic state. Paul Virilio condemns the tyranny of the instant which is imposed by progress and prevents one from taking a reflective distance, from putting things into perspective, and therefore upsets our rapport with the world. The increasingly hyper-real nature of our environment has a similarly disturbing effects on our psyche.
Among my other influences I could name Carl Jung and Paul Diel, for their research into symbolic language. In photography, I constantly research what is being created, so it’s difficult to name any examples in particular. Andreas Gursky and Thomas Demand come to mind. Among other things, I like their esthetic and the way they recompose or simulate reality to better draw attention to it. In painting, the atmosphere that emanates from some Edward Hopper and Chirico paintings speaks to me on a profound level. Finally I would say that my husband, Marc Fichou, has a major influence on the making of this series, not only because he supported me, but also because his approach to art is a constant source of inspiration to me.
How important is the image-collecting phase that precedes your montages?
Image collecting is an important part of my work. It’s very intuitive. I take pictures of things and places that have an impact on me. It started in Europe and is now continuing in the Unites States. Since I live in Los Angeles, I cover quite a lot of distance by car, which allows me to scout a number of locations. When I leave the city, even if I’m headed for a specific location, I no longer hesitate to take detours and navigate randomly.
What are you working on right now?
I am still building on this series. Right now I’m working on several images that I hope to collect into a tryptic.