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Clément Chapillon Photographs The Wilderness As A State Of Mind

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French photographer Clément Chapillon has shared with IGNANT his documentary series: ‘Meet California’ explores the diverse forms of wilderness in the state of California, as well as the varied ideas that surround Californian identity.

“I tried to lose myself everywhere in the state,” Chapillon tells us, “not only in national parks and the obvious wilderness spaces, but also the in-between places—around cities and villages where nature becomes wild”. There is an element of mystery in the series; a purposeful move by Chapillon, who wanted to steer clear from road trip cliches. “I felt a kind of strangeness from the wilderness,” he says. “Human traces are enmeshed with the natural landscape; I found enigmatic objects placed in the middle of nowhere, such as a front door, rocks, and odd trees… It created a feeling that the wild has become some kind of touristic installation.” This reveals something important about our collective intention to disconnect from modern life out in the wild—on our adventures, do we ever fully detach? “In a way, it feels like you can’t escape from it,” Chapillon says. “We leave our traces everywhere now. A lot of the landscapes I visited, it felt as if you were lost in the middle of nowhere, but actually you’re just a short drive from downtown Los Angeles.”

In ‘Meet California’, Chapillon hopes that his audience will indeed feel lost, immersed in his landscapes and portraits without reference or context. “It’s an idea that needs to be rethought,” he states. “Not as a sanctuary space you can’t enter, or an outdoor mindset, but as something stronger—an energy that drives people’s lives, everywhere, that creates this unique Californian identity.”

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All images © Clement Chapillon