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Transition: between here and somewhere

In the age of globalization, we move from one place to another with unprecedented frequency and at a staggering speed. The possibility of travelling and living in many places is a sufficient reason not to settle down in one place, but to constantly seek change and new experiences instead. Yet the pace at which everything happens, as well as the countless stimuli surrounding us, make us feel less and less present. Despite all the advanced communications systems that make us feel that we are connected without any limits, we have started to exist in a virtual world while withdrawing from the material one. Access to so much information leaves us overwhelmed by the amount of news and imagery we are faced with, so that we feel unable to cope anymore. Reality is fragmented and thus disorienting. Emptiness and loneliness, a feeling of being lost, cause this crisis of identity. A sense of belonging is difficult to define.

The universe created in the Transition series (realized between 2005 and 2013) echoes these complex reflections. Marsolier’s signature method is a multifaceted reconstruction of places created in the post-production process. Unlike jigsaw puzzles, these compositions do not recreate familiar views. The photographer puts together fragments of multiple pictures taken in various locations and uses only non-specific details. The reduced motifs seemingly enables an identification of locations that could be anywhere. As the landscapes are unpopulated (although we see some traces of human presence), it is even more difficult to define them in any way. The viewer is deluded by the realistic elements,
 but the confusion is even greater due to the unnaturally strong light, putting into focus the subdued colour palette and simple compositions. The landscapes are captivating and aesthetically striking yet filled with disturbing silence. Paradoxically, the sophisticated beauty of the scenes create a feeling of isolation, but also suspense, as if the pictures were attractive yet surreal settings for something that was about to happen. Meticulously constructed landscapes transform into a metaphysical reflection about moments of transition. The core of my work is to explore the phenomena of transition both as psychological process and a spatial condition. I am interested in how we experience change, how it can trigger inner conflicts and eventually affect our outlook (1), explains Lauren Marsolier.

A transition is a change from one form, style, state or place to another. The poetic concept of this in-between condition contains the idea of temporality as well as fluid transformation. Marsolier’s newly constructed landscapes are designed to stimulate inquisitive thinking about transition. Every composition invites us to go somewhere undefined, new, and observe, investigate, explore and learn to understand. With her great sense of form and colour, the photographer succeeds in arousing the viewer’s curiosity, presenting something novel and unexplored, as if each scene was a mystery to be unraveled. Arriving at a previously unknown place is naturally connected to a willingness to learn all the new details and probe our reaction to them, which obviously takes time and requires skillful and mindful observation. Although used to what is familiar, we may feel anxious as we explore the unknown, it pushes us forward to gain exciting new knowledge or gather valuable experiences. Lauren Marsolier’s photographs, either a parking lot, a playground or an open space, prove that landscapes can be transitional in so many ways. While stimulating our senses, they appeal to the complex nature of transition.

The photographs from the Transition series are mesmerizing. Marsolier is frugal in her compositions, including only a few elements to intrigue the viewers’ eyes while creating these new places. At first glance everything looks normal, it is only when placed under scrutiny that the scenes reveal their surreal character. That’s the point when the lighting appears bizarrely perfect and the colours seem unnaturally alluring. But most interesting is the moment when seduced by this pleasing vision, we realize that it is a balance between what’s real and what’s possible. In a way all the components of the compositions are taken from existing places, however if we look really carefully the recreated landscapes look chimerical. This duality of the minimalist compositions produces unexpected surreal visions.

Marsolier’s approach and the visual language she has developed have become a relevant part of the contemporary photography scene as well as a milestone in digital manipulation. The photographer’s method intrigues the eyes as well as challenges the mind. By confronting conventional landscape photography, Marsolier questions both our vision of reality and our attitude towards photography as a medium that traditionally captures the true instant. Each photograph in the series initiates a captivating dialogue with the viewer, creating a surrealistic world that mixes reality, dreams, digital tricks and imagination in ways that are as inspiring as they are provoking.

To travel through any landscape requires transition, literally by physically moving to a different location and metaphorically by shifting the mind set from one set of circumstances to another. Our perception records and makes sense of the changes, like a passage connecting two themes and changing tonality in a piece of music. Seizing the new means to challenge the tension between the familiar and the unknown. Transition by Lauren Marsolier can be seen as an insightful reflection on the age of perpetual change we are experiencing today.

(1)

From the artist’s notes for a presentation at the Houston Center for Photography in 2013.

(2)

Image credits. All rights reserved © Lauren Marsolier

Transition, Landscape With Covered Car, triptych
Transition, Playground 2
Transition, Buildings and tree 2
Transition, Buildings and pines
Transition, Black square
Transition, Landscape with white chair
Transition, Landscape with tree
Transition, Playground 3
Transition, Parking lot 3
Transition, Landscape with white fence and lawn
Transition, Pine against painted background

Posted
21.Mar.2018 295 views 90 shares
Author
Lauren Marsolier Lauren Marsolier

Lauren Marsolier (Paris, 1972) is the recipient of several awards among which are the 2017 Aaron Siskind Photographer’s Fellowship grant and the 2013 Houston Center for Photography fellowship award. Her work is represented by the Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco and Galerie Richard in New York and Paris. It has been reviewed in such magazines as Artforum, Blouin Artinfo, Art LTD, the Huffington Post, PDN, and Musee Magazine. Her 2015 monograph Transition published by Kerber Verlag received International Photography Awards 2015 First Prize in the Fine Art Book category. Her work is part of many private and public collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum.

www.laurenmarsolier.com

Posted
22.Mar.2018 295 views 90 shares
Author
Agata Toromanoff

Agata Toromanoff is an art historian. After working for several art collectors and galleries and participating in the launch of a fashion brand, she founded and has run the book packaging agency Fancy Books. She shares time between writing books on art and design and curating photography exhibitions. She is currently based in Germany.