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Monday, September 22, 2008

A Conversation with Joachim Lapotre

Medicine - from the Still Life Series © Joachim Lepotre

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely email from Joachim Lepotre introducing himself and his work. In his initial correspondence he wrote about his process and his empathy/respect for the animal that had been slaughtered and served as a prop for his photograph(s). He spoke about the "barbarism of consumerism" and cruelty of mechanized live-stock farming - and it made me keen to know more so I asked Joachim if he would be interested in an interview. In our conversation Joachim reveals his very passionate approach to photography and life.

Trash &Valentine's Day - from the Still Life Series © Joachim Lepotre

NC: Tell us about yourself.

JL: I was born in Paris in 78, I live in Chicago now.
I didn't study art at school, but my mentors continuously nourished me creatively, we often talked for hours and I also conducted a lot of research by myself.
I work for more than 8 years as a freelance art director for advertising companies mainly in the luxury domain.
I think these two "opposite" poles shape my work.

Chicken - from the Still Life Series © Joachim Lepotre

NC:How did you discover photography?

JL: I first borrowed an old Olympus reflex camera from a friend, I was fascinated by the reflections of the neon lights during the night in the Parisian red light district where I was living.
But I quit after some professional (fashion) photographers in my entourage discouraged me by saying I am good graphic designer but I will never be a photographer.
I gave up for 4 years. Then I bought a digital amateur reflex camera with a book called "learn digital photography" and I got totally obsessed with it. I shot literally night and day with natural light and garden halogen lights.
I started refusing freelance advertising work to starve, I got mad about photography, it changed my life, I felt like I should have always been doing photography.

Rotten Bread - from the Still Life Series © Joachim Lepotre

NC: Where do you find inspiration?

JL: It usually starts from the will to work around a chosen theme, then an image pops into my mind and obsesses me like a nightmare, like a ghost that haunts me. The only way to be delivered from it is to make the photo.
After this first image obsession I try to understand it and make it finer, focusing more precisely. Transform the nightmare/dream in something thought-out/controlled.

Offerings (triptych) © Joachim Lepotre

NC: How did the Offering and Still Life series come about?

JL: I try to create current day mythology through contemporary everyday life.
I asked myself, if nowadays society created a pagan cult/god, what would it be? A kind of today's golden cow, like in the bible, the first idol.
The idea that tribal societies thank nature with offerings came into my mind.
We grow pigs and cows industrially, like goods in a factory. And today's most stable value is still gold.
I chose the luxury/fashion magazine aesthetic codes to illustrate it and ended as a triptych.
A great friend of mine, a Korean artist, told me when she saw it, that traditionally in Korea, when people start a project business or build a house, they cut a pig head put money in his mouth and pray for the project to succeed. It made me feel I did something that is deeply/truly human.

NC: What's next?

JL: I am working at 4 new series but I prefer not to talk about what has to be done or I never do it. It is like a "magic" thing and I am very superstitious.

NC: Thank you so much.

You can see more of Joachim's work online at www.joachimlapotre.com. If you are in Chicago you can see his work at All Rise Gallery through October 18, 2008 - and in Paris at Studio Art and You through September 27, 2008.

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