One of the interesting thing in photography and in art in general is the meaning under the “simple” image. Sure the meaning is not always simple to find and more than never it’s not the same for each viewer, but the again, that’s The magic or art. Garane Li images are what we can call “perfect”: the perfect lighting, the perfect composition, the perfect pose. They call for your attention. But this perfection is disrupted by a sense of discomfort, like when, in the serie “Food”, young women eat their ready-made food alone on a colorful pink and violet background. And as you look at these calm, fresh, little visual candies you start to feel the loneliness of these young women and maybe you start to think about yourself eating, fast, in front of the televison. Ans as these thoughs come to your mind, these little visual candies become uncomfortable to watch as if it was you eating that food.
Can you shortly introduce yourself?
My name is Garance Li. I’m 25, and I was born and live in Paris. I’m a professional photographer since 2007.
When did you started photography?
I started photography when I was 17. My father gave me one of his cameras and I began to develop my own photos on an handmade laboratory. Then, I went to university to study cinema and 3 years later I started a course in a famous school of photography in Paris, l’école des Gobelins. I studied there 2 years and graduated 1 year ago. I’ve always been interested by the world of images, most of all cinema and photography. But these 2 years at les Gobelins were decisive and confirmed my love for photography. There, I learned how to make a real project, how to express my feelings and emotions in my work. And most of all, I met a lot of wonderfull and brilliant photographers, my school mates, with whom I talked a lot about photography, art, pictures, and so on.
Do you think knowing technique is important in photography?
I think the most important is what you feel, and technique comes with time and passion. But first, if you’ve got no connexion with yourself and what’s environning you, technique won’t bring you to the art of photography. Technique is only a way to express your own visions on the world. It can bring you work, money, it helps you to find a good job, but if you are empty or blind, it will be useless. Too much photographers are sure to be artists because they are good at photoshop and know the name of every cameras in the world. But if nothing happens in your head, you don’t make photographs, you only make pictures and the difference is huge between the two.
Whatis it that interest you in photography?
I’ve never really knew why I was interested in photography. But I think that I have a visual brain. I’ve always been atracted by pictures and images that where around me. I think that the interest I find in photography is that it’s very close to human vision. It’s direct. It’s known as the closest medium to the « reality ». And to me, it’s the quickiest way to express something.
How would you describe your work?
I think my work has roots in surrealism. In fact, I never really think precisely of what I will photograph. One day, suddenly, a vision or an image can come to my mind, and I automatically know if it’s strong enough for me to do it. And I know if I need to do it or not. Then I try to analyse it. Why has it come to me ? What does it mean ? It’s very close to psychology ! I think it’s very important to analyse oneself, your own connection to the world, because knowing why you have a vision helps you to make it better, to express it visualy better. Then I let the « vision » grow on my head. It’s a little bit like waiting for a fruit to be ready to be eaten. Sometimes, it’s very quick, sometimes, it’s very slow until I give birth to an image.
Can you tell us more about your serie “Food” ?
For example, the food series came very fast. One day, I had to shoot at school, but had no ideas. I went to the supermarket, and facing the cans, I had this idea of silly situations : girls eating like pets. I never really thought about it. I felt it was visually interesting. I felt the situation instinctly. Then I started to think about it. I wanted to express something very pragmatic, and yet totaly surrealistic. How the lonelyness and absurdity of every day life can be express only with this little simple object : a can. How small but emblematic it is of our way of living nowadays, the way we eat, the way we communicate with other apes. Nowadays, people don’t have pleasure in eating. Eating is a sin. It’s boring, useless. That’s why most of the time we have to eat in front of a television. This series talks about loneliness and boredom, the way we want a perfect life with perfect food. Everything must be clean and quick. We don’t loose time cooking. We don’t have to share, everybody can have his own little can. But it tells about dreamers too, dreamers that are forced to live in a restricted life, with restricted sensations. No taste, silence anywhere, and nothing to look around. My girls can only escape their prison by their stare, their thoughts, far away out of the frame.
You mainly do portraits, what do you like in portraiture?
What I prefer in photographying people is what the model can bring to me, what he or she can bring to the photo. I like unprofessionnal people, because they doen’t hide, their shyness, ther personality behind a composed face. You can « sculpt » their expression much more easily than with professionnal models. Most of my models are my friends. But when I meet someone that has « something », I like it as well. As I said, having the right expression is a work of sculptor. I know perfectly how the little muscles of the face work, and I try to direct people by doing the same expression I would like them to do. And the model brings me his own « face geography ».
What material do you use?
I like « englobing » lightning. I work with a construction of white and black panels reflecting or not reflecting the light.
What are you trying to capture through photography?
I try to capture an expression, a pose, a situation that sounds weird, surrealistic, delicate and sweet but yet that can contain a certain caustic violence. I like paradoxes.
What feeling would you like to leave to the viewer of your work?
I want to catch the viewer, first of all, by something esthetically « perfect », plane and soft. Then I surprise him with a surrealistic situation. He is trying to find a purpose in my photos, a reason, a cause. I like when they say my work is evident, but yet mysterious.
Do you have any new projects you are working on?
Right now, I have 4 projects in my mind. – The first one, « Les rescapés de l’Atlantide » (Atlantide’s survivors) is a series of portraits of children in white underwears holding or facing dead fishes. It will be about the Peter Pan syndrom, how we see our childhood, how we consider it as a lost paradise, althought childhood is sometimes hard, rought, full of anger, frustrations and nightmares. It’s about discovering a sexuality, a sensuality. – The other is a series of portraits of young teenage girls. – The third will be about little unconfortable feelings, but it’s not very precise in my mind yet. – Then the last, « Alice in Adultland » is my return to studio. I’m working on it for the moment, trying to find ideas of images. It will be quite surrealistic, and similar to my food series, I think. But I have to read Alice in wonderland again.
What are your main inspirations?
My inspiration is my own dreams, feelings, what I try to find on my subconcient. But it’s most of all films I see, the books I read, the pictures I see. For example, there is a film that fascinates me a lot, Innocence, by Lucile Hadzihallilovic. This one is a great mysterious source of inspiration, and tells about subjects that concerned me a lot. But sometimes, it can be only a little sentence, a word, that can get part of the little pieces that construct my imagination.
What do you look for in other photographers work?
I’m looking for an original vision of the world, inspiration. I like to enter in a photo, and live the story that tells the picture.
If you could invite three photographers or artist for a dinner who would it be and why?
I’ll invite Loretta Lux, because I want to understand what happened in her mind. Then maybe Eugenio Recuenco, whom work I love. And maybe a painter, probably Vermeer or Edward Hopper, because both have a great and particular sense of light, and they have a lot to teach about it.
Any Flickr member you really like and would like us to discover?
I’m a great fan of Yosigo, Jaime m, François Coquerel, Francis A Willey, EvilxElf, Ta, and a special smile to the great tiny work of Diastema…”
Thank you Garance.
Intreview by Frankie