Born in the Parisian neighbourhood of Ménilmontant, he grew up with a father who made holiday videos with his Super 8 camera, a mother who loved drawing, and a brother with a passion for theatre. Such varied influences led Laurent Chehere to a life of creativity and “unceasing curiosity”. The photographer, who recently participated in the first edition of the photography festival Travel Photo Jaipur, talks about his quirky exhibits.
What was the motive behind The Flying Houses?
The series is inspired by the poor, cosmopolitan Parisian neighbourhoods. They are a testament to the alarming contemporary reality of the impoverished classes of society, mainly the gypsies and immigrants. These buildings are isolated from their urban context and released from the anonymity of the street to tell tales of the lives, dreams and hopes of their inhabitants.
What was the process of creating the images like?
Technically, they’re photomontages. After making a sketch, I photograph hundreds of elements — roofs, windows, gutters, fireplaces, characters, antennae, graffiti and skies — and then assemble them together on the computer.
What is the message you want to convey?
All the ingredients are there — comedy, drama, poetry, darkness, Onirism, laughter and tears — and everything is entangled. The images let the curious observer discover details and hidden references by proposing a double reading, one from afar and one up-close — to offer different points of view, and to alert viewers against preconceived ideas and prejudices. I have given some keys, but these flying houses are open to interpretation. It’s the observer who will make his own way.
Any tips for aspiring travel photographers?
Photography is a language, a medium to communicate with the rest of the world. To aspiring lensmen, I would say: just be curious and respectful.
Laurent Chehere’s works will be on display in Sydney, Australia at the Head On Photo Festival from April 29 to May 22, 2016 and at the Théâtre des Quinconces in Le Mans, France from April 21 to June 25, 2016.