THE 18TH RPS GRANTEE Guillaume Simoneau
We are pleased to announce that we are awarding two Reminders Photography Stronghold Grants from the 2018 first call of submissions from the June deadline as a result of two equally strong proposals from artists Guillaume Simoneau and Fabian Muir. Guillaume Simoneau’s proposal “MURDER” and Fabian Muir’s proposal “Intimate Perspectives on North Korea” are the 18th grantees selected by our seven commissioned judges: Peggy Sue Amison, Marie Lelievre, Teun van der Heijden, Erik Vroons, Emmeline Yong, Andrei Polikanov, and Dean Chapman. We are now scheduling their exhibitions in 2019… more news later!
Produced in the spring of 2016 and 2017 in the seismic prefecture of Saga and the mountainous region of Kanazawa, Japan, MURDER is the latest collection of images by Canadian photographer Guillaume Simoneau. After looking outwards, to the great outdoors, to bring us Experimental Lake (Mack, 2018), Simoneau now opts for a more personal and intimate narrative reminiscent of the enormous emotional charge emanating from his book Love and War (Dewi Lewis, 2013).
《This body of work is a response: a timeless dialogue with the work of my mother, Jeanne D’arc Fournier, as well as an homage-attack to the acclaimed Ravens series by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012). 》
Simoneau was about 4 years old when his father accidentally chopped down a tree that housed a nest full of baby crows. Although the photographer cannot recall all the details of this event, he can still distinctly remember the plaintive cawing of the little ones who had just come crashing down about fifteen meters away from them. It was the spring of 1982 and Simoneau’s father’s decision was unequivocal. That is how his family became, in spite of itself, the foster home to four young corvids, all more malignant and mischievous than the others. At that moment, the photographer’s mother, Jeanne D’Arc Fournier, armed with a Japanese Mamiya/Sekor camera, began documenting in a genuine and intimate way this new experimental relationship. It is that very series of unforgettable images that prompted Simoneau to develop this improbable dialogue, almost 35 years later.
At the same time during the early 1980s, on the other side of the Pacific, Masahisa Fukase was producing his Karasu (Ravens) book. Created mainly in the Hokkaido region and in the Kanazawa prefecture, this obscure post-war masterpiece remains one of the most significant collections of images ever published in Japan. In 2010, The British Journal of Photography and Gerry Badger, world-renowned author in the field, named it “Best Photobook of the past 25 years”. In second place came another book published in 1986, this one, much better known by the general public: Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency.
As Anne Wilkes Tucker argues in her essay «Why so Personal?» (Setting Sun – Writings by Japanese Photographers, Aperture, 2006): «Memory, commemoration, and nostalgia are repeatedly used as the impetuses to photograph. But what is commemorated, and why?» In MURDER, Simoneau’s works do honor to the Japanese master in a violent and modern way. This same violence, juxtaposed with the calm and gentleness of his mother’s instinctive images lets us presume a romantic – maybe even watered down – vision of both his childhood and of the past. The omnipresence of such oppositions and tensions in Simoneau’s work is due to the fact that his focus centers primarily on the simultaneous presence of power and vulnerability, on the unique and fleeting coexistence of strengths and weaknesses. The sublime, the horrible, attention, negligence, youth, old age, gentleness, violence, day, night, life and death: the layers are multiple and the proposal complex.
The result challenges the viewer’s willingness to fully embrace a reality. Once collected, the works take the form of fragmented stories, reflecting the extraordinary complexity of the world in which we live. They are recounted in a non-linear narrative where facts give way to perspectives, and truths to opinions.
Guillaume Simoneau (Canada) began his independent studies in photography after completing a diploma in Pure and Applied Science. His first major body of work Love and War was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and was published by Dewi Lewis (UK).
The publication was shortlisted for both the First Book Award and European Publishers Award for Photography. His recent series entitled Experimental Lake is the subject of his second monograph published in 2018 by MACK (UK) and was exhibited at Stephen Bulger Gallery in Canada.
Simoneau is a 2018 Light Work Artist-in-Residence recipient.
His next compendium, entitled MURDER will be published by MACK (UK) in the spring of 2019.