François Ollivier’s Disappearing Sculptures
In a series that revisits places heavy with nostalgia, Montreal-based photographer François Ollivier constructs sculptures that erase themselves through the flash of his camera.
‘Memory Lapses’ are temporary installations built by François in places that are important to him — from Montréal to Roquebrune sur Argens and the coastline of Portugal, each place selected because of its connection to François’ emotional history. Though the sculptures look as if they have been removed from the photographs — they haven’t. “The sculpture erases itself in the process,” François explains, “It’s not photoshopped out. It’s actual subtraction by light.” Created using a reflective material, when exposed to a bright flash the sculptures seemingly cease to exist; “The light of the flash makes it so white that there is no data anymore in that part of the image. It’s gone. Burnt out. Timing was important, it had to be made at the right hour, at sunset when there is still daylight so that you can’t tell that I used a flash.” These subtractions alter the landscape of the image and distort our perception, much like time and distance.
The photographs from Montréal and Québec feature sculptures that are complex and chaotic — a reflection, François explains, of his own emotional attachment to the place. “Montréal is where I have lived since 2011,” François tells us. “It became the place that put distance between me and Europe. So I have a kind of love/hate feeling towards it, because it is also the place that has generated the most memories for me in the past years.” The sculptures feel more at ease — widely spaced and embracing the landscape — in his photos from the South of France. “Roquebrune sur Argens is my hometown, it’s where I was born and is the place I miss most on earth. You have images of the mediterranean sea, my parents’ pool, and the Rocher de Roquebrune; the most iconic mountain in the village where I grew up. They’re all symbols and landmarks to me.” The pictures from Portugal again take different forms, the sculptures lines are less clean, chaotic in a different way as they try to blend into, or mask, their location. “Portugal is where my sister lives with her husbands and three kids, who I don’t see enough. So it became a new element for my memory — it’s where we create emotions, it’s where we meet once a year. The palm trees by the pool, the lines in the parallel lines in the rocks. Places become more familiar each visit, I may miss them someday.”