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Rio, Ville invisible (2013-2018)

For the past five years I have lived in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro a grey, empty, silent urban environment, in direct contrast to the clichs commonly associated with the city, as far from the favelas as from the tourist haunts, 50km from Copacabana.

This immense space is never on display and yet it is here that most of Rios inhabitants live. It is useless to try and find a logic, a pilot plan, a backbone. The center/periphery dichotomy is tempting but ineffective because this is the city itself, not its suburbs. What is left of a city when the representations that define it are erased? There are giant wastelands, stretches of highways, scattered residential buildings that rarely rise high.

I must admit that at the outset I was very destabilized by my new life. I had left everything behind to find myself in the middle of nowhere, cut off from everything and everyone. I remember how in the first months I would spend hour upon hour looking out the window of my room. It looked out onto a four-lane highway and a gas station, where I would go to eat lunch. I felt impotent and without answers: is it possible to photograph an illegible place?

A visually totalizing, linear approach such as a panorama was impossible. I proceeded in fragments and snippets, wanderings and strolls. Little by little, these outings revealed recurrent details that in turn became fixed ideas, giving a frame and an intention to my forays.

Each of these choices reveal the different ways it is difficult to grasp this territory, and the process I underwent to do so. The nearly systematic quest for grey, cloudy weather scrambles and blurs the contours and referential habits associated with a sunny city. Isolated details, both urban and interior, evoke an ephemeral dcor where everything can change from one day to the next. The furtive presence of passers-by and portraits of people on their own, fixed or fidgety, embody a city where the population density is low and where emptiness and silence reign.

However, sensations of immobility and familiarity are probably just an illusion.

Placed back to back, all these elements sketch an objective and faithful topography of the environment where Ive evolved these past five years. Echoing the existential doubt that has seized the country, the troubling encounters that punctuate this territory are symptomatic of a deaf and menacing tension, situated somewhere between the disintegration of one order and the dawn of another.
It also outlines an interior urban landscape, a sensitive space where my imaginary and my anguish.

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