In September 2014, The Ravestijn Gallery presented photographer Vincent Fournier’s work from his uncanny series ‘Space Project’ and ‘The Man Machine’ (2012). Shown for the first time in the Netherlands, these two series consider space and technology as still undiscovered countries on Earth.
With ‘Space Project’, Fournier photographs space training facilities in different locations around the world. Images of gleaming shuttle and satellite equipment contrast sharply with retro auditoriums, classrooms displays and hallowed accessories from Soviet cosmonauts. The series as a whole, together with stunning desert and arctic research locations, renders space and time as something not yet integrated into our own world. ‘The Man Machine’ looks from a closer range at the intersections between science fiction, robots and contemporary society. Humorous, touching and at times unsettling, Fournier stages various scenarios in which machine and man interact not without a tangible sense of awkwardness.
Important questions arise from Fournier’s work: how is our environment shaped to accommodate visions of other worlds? To what extents do unfamiliar machines and scenarios square with visions of the future? What are the rules of engagement for this new world? Can the future be defined in one to one terms with our present day realities? These questions are made all the more complex since so many of the photographs appear as if out of a dream or a childhood science fiction fantasy.
Throughout his career Vincent Fournier has developed a unique photographic style best described as retro-futuristic. His documentations of machines, technologies and ambitions for the future are photographed often through the veil of the 1970s: a Russian cosmonaut poses in front of faded floral wallpaper, replicas and models stand unused; the machinery and facilities in many images appear outdated, framed with a certain distance and foreignness that seem to originate from the past. In a time when technologies on Earth have eclipsed earlier dreams of space travel and invention, Fournier’s images seem archival, like relics. ‘Space Project’ and ‘The Man Machine’ give the viewer pause by instilling technologies meant to explain outer space and the future with their own alien qualities.
Vincent Fournier (FR) was born in 1971 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where he spent the first five years of his life before moving to France. He earned degrees in sociology and visual arts and then studied photography at the National School of Photography in Arles. An overview of four recent works entitled Past Forward was published in 2012. This is his second solo exhibition at Ravestijn Gallery.
Great VICE interview here!