A photographer since 2005, Baptiste de Ville d’Avray lives and works between Europe and Africa. His photography is orientated towards a cinematographic, latent and contemplative vision of landscape and portraiture. Since 2009, he has been working on a project based on the transformations of Mediterranean landscapes–particularly in Morocco. His images seek to construct mini photographic fictions based on a real territory that becomes a character in its own right within anodyne moments from daily life through flirting with the boundaries of documentary photography and poetry. They express the contradiction between a perpetual movement and the immobility of bodies, thus presenting an x-ray view of the inner workings of a country and its inhabitants.
So far away, yet so close – Morocco (2009-2016)
The project “So far away, yet so close” brings together 7 years of exploration on a real territory during a boom in urban development – a place that is resolutely contemporary and yet photographed in a timeless manner.
Baptiste de Ville d’Avray originally approached Morocco during regular short visits. He was soon attracted by its unique Atlantic atmosphere and its coastline spanning thousands of kilometres between the Algerian and Mauritanian borders. This country became a character in its own right within d’Avray’s world. He would revisit and chisel away at this material, honing a land that springs from his imagination. He thus transforms slices of life and atmospheres into stories with his camera. The lighting is always soft; the characters are like silent actors, appearing to perform in a set invented by and for the photographer.
In 2009, he began the series “Mediterrannea Saidia”, focusing on the “Plan Azur” project, with the scheduled creation of six seaside resorts. This series features the concrete sprawl over the coastline through architecture and landscapes of which the residents appear lost. Shortly after the events that shook the Arab countries, he continued his work on the coast with the series “Witnesses on the horizon” [A l’horizon les témoins]. These photographs capture a latent expectation in the air–at once calm yet full of tension–which can be found in many Mediterranean countries. Facing the sea, the witnesses wander. They pause: impassive. With their eyes turned to the future, they seem to deny themselves the right to dream.
In 2012, he moved to Morocco and began a contemplative photographic fiction compiled over the course of his travels and encounters with “So far away, yet so close” (L’apparition d’un lointain si proche. This was the starting point for playing on the fringes of his practice in which he moves away from a more documentary and serial approach. In each photo, time appears to slow down, with each of the titles reconstituting the pieces of a puzzle to form a fable.
He later embarked on a nomadic photography project “The Coast : another border” [Le littoral, une autre frontière], which follows the Moroccan side of the Mediterranean bypass that was never completed–originally intended to link together two countries, Algeria and Morocco. In a cinematic style, the author reveals the radical transformations of the landscape.
Living between two continents, and flying many times over the Atlantic, he began “Postcard from Morocco” in 2016: a kind of visual and imaginary correspondence. In this series, he presents suspended moments devoid of exoticism.
To view more of Baptiste de Ville d’Avray’s work please visit his website.