The urban landscape moulds the plants that inhabit its parks, paths and corners. Trees are heavily pruned in line with Classicism expression, best recognised in Les Jardins de Versailles. In Paris, nature is ordered and shaped to prevent obstruction, reduce pollution and promote surrounding aesthetics. Most of all, it serves for a general sense of freedom and well-being from the constraints of the urban lifestyle, even if it feels like this is often forgotten. Consequently, the texts give the lonely trees a voice, like passing thoughts, where internal and external landscapes can be bridged as one.
The dominant depictions of nature in this series play an integral part in framing Paris in absence of time and people, either in direct contrast with the thick, unkempt landscapes of nature that surround it, or the city's relationship with nature like a metaphor to a deeper relationship with ourselves. Through poetry, the intrinsic understanding of an emotional awareness and non-dual states of being act as a reminder, or reconnection to the very essence of what it means to be human and at one with nature.
On the surface, 'Faux Paris' aims to challenge how we may characterise nature and the city together, and in turn empathise with the organic forms as we might do with ourselves. It is fundamentally a contemplation on the impact of urbanism from an urge to create an awareness with the environment we live in, that is our impact on the city and it's impact on who we think we are. Using the city as an allegory to reality, there is both a vision of constraint and hope, that although we see how man has exercised his control over nature, nature can and will always find a way.
‘Faux Paris’ is a photobook project exploring the photographic representation of Paris after spending a year living there between 2019 and 2020. Whilst studying how the poetic vision of the city has been orchestrated in photobooks of the past with ‘Paris des Rêves’ (Izis Bidermanas, 1950), ‘Paris de Nuit’ (Brassai, 1931) and ‘Banlieue de Paris’ (Robert Doisneau, 1949) among others, this project poetically combines candid street photography of people, architecture and nature with fragments of tension around recent events such as the public transport strikes, Gilets Jaunes protests and the coronavirus outbreak.
Taking inspiration from 'Paris des Rêves' poem-photograph structure, Chris juxtaposes his photography with metaphysical texts in the book format to explore the nature of his environment and his own physical connection to it. With Paris being a culturally unique city with a rich history of traditions and romantic clichés, as captured in classic french cinema and humanist photography of an era, the project developed as a journey of open-minded discovery, using the city as a canvas to peel away its layers of identity and get beneath the surface, page by page.
An exercise in meditation, Chris uses the camera to dissect and process new surroundings, revelling in a heightened awareness that comes with the language barrier, and a poetic harmony between balancing subject and its surroundings to make sense of things.
In casting the present moment into a timeless space of reflection, the viewer is invited with a distance, both physical and mental, to study what might be real and what might be fake; to investigate the underlying truth of the image. To further support this direction, the photographs make use of a high dynamic range where highlights and shadows are balanced to present the image as detailed and as close, if not closer, to the reality seen through the human eye. However, Chris purposefully relieves the project of an individual context so as the lens is turned inwards, focusing instead on the archetypes and visual metaphors that can mirror our own human struggles and tensions in the city.