Antoine Gonin’s Empreinte
Atelier des Forges, Parc des Ateliers.
Walking into the room that contained Gonin’s Empreinte, I first questioned whether or not I was looking at photographs. Obviously, in a photographic exhibition I expected photography, but his prints looked more like ink or graphite drawings at first glance. Only after reading the captions and titles for each image did I understand what exactly I was looking at.
Gonin has previously worked in landscape photography, and this series continues that theme but in a drastically different way. Instead of a traditional view of natural scenes, Gonin skews perspective and reality by framing his photos in a way that abstracts the natural and draws out repetition and contrast. His landscapes range from salt flats to mussel breeding areas, but each photo hardly resembles its original subject.
One theme that comes through in the work is the impact of human activity on a landscape. In many of the photos, the canvas would be blank apart from the equipment or effects of farming on the area. Human modification of the landscape is apparent in the photos, and his use of abstract framing further modifies the original image.
The image that stood out to me the most was the first one that I saw, of oyster farming baskets. This was one of the more abstract photos, and being the first thing I saw in the room, it became the most impressive. Mostly I was just amazed that a camera could produce something that essentially looked like white paper with black squares on it. This abstraction from reality is what stood out to me about the series as a whole. Landscapes that no longer look like landscapes.