591 Permanent Exhibition: China: 'Other Cities' - Jean Philippe Gauvrit
This portfolio is part of an on-going documentary project I am currently developing in China in second-tier cities, and which is called: China: 'Other Cities'.
WATCH the exhibition ( 40 pictures)
To describe my style of photography, I would simply say "Documentary Photography“. I have a deep interest in places, spaces, and territories, in one word in landscapes, urban landscapes. I believe that showing where people live, work, inter-act or develop their activities can teach us as much about the inhabitants as showing them.
Improbable and ugly spaces or buildings, highways, bridges, pipelines, factories, train stations and railroads, all are Man’s creation, how can we explain that these places seem ultimately to run their own life, growth, decay or agony, in an apparent total independence and abandon from their designers or users?
I feel comfortable walking along these places, looking at rushing and roaring trucks running between noisy and exhausted cities, staring at busy people. I am also interested in visual emptiness, (an empty crossroad for instance, just a place for people or for cars to transit between two short moments of a nonsense life) and in visual banality, like in some suburban areas. Trying to capture some essence from nothing… Maybe am I simply documenting absurdity?
Of course I like people as well and I am curious. That is why I am spending so much time in China, trying to understand what does this country and its people look like, how is it moving forward; this is also why Street Photography is important to me, "Die knowing something' someone said. If I had a last word to explain what I like when doing photography, I would say: walking during hours on a broad and clean avenue, nothing really surprising popping up at your eyes; then, suddenly, you decide to take that narrow lane on the right hand side; and you discover a dirty but lively back street; you shoot and maybe you know. Turn right and take the narrow lane. That could be a pretty good definition indeed…
Jean Philippe Gauvrit
Lives in: Shanghai (China)
Inspiration (photographers): I could cite so many influential photographers, Walker Evans first, but also French photographers like Th. Girard, K. Sluban or Arnaud Claass from different perspectives; I came to photography when seeing the low-angle shots by A. Rodtchenko, and constructivist photographers or artists had a strong influence on my way of seeing, structuring my images, before I turned to documentary works; Daido of course for his relentless energy; Landscape photographers, like F. Gohlke or L. Balz thought me a lot as well.
Inspiration (other): Jazz and poetry are constant sources of inspiration for me; they cannot be dissociated from my photographic practice, although I am not mixing the works as such, being a poet as well. When walking in the lost districts of Shanghai or of New-Delhi, Trane or Monk’s music is permanently in my mind, and so are the written images from great poets like Taneda Santoka, Tomas Transtromer, or Henri Michaux.
Quote: I won’t be very creative: “Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop, die knowing something, you are not here long” by W. Evans has become my motto for quite a while now.