Christophe Jacrot is a French photographer whose name immediately conjures up atmospheric photographs. Talking about his interest in meteorological phenomena and violent climate change, the artist remembers an unexpected job opportunity. He had accepted a commission to shoot 600 photos for a tourist guide on Paris. The request was to photograph the city in sunny weather. Unfortunately, it had been very rainy for some time and it just kept pouring down. So, how was he going to get the job done?
In rebellious spirit, Christophe decided to explore the capital in the rain, experimenting with the weather to find out what kind of images could be made treading a path he had as yet not taken. Finally, his off-beat approach paid off and the tourist guide was a success. So that is the story of how the artist made atmospheric conditions his stock in trade!
Christophe declares himself to be very interested in rendering colour. He is highly attentive to what modifies the external aspects of the world around him and seeks to capture the colours of the sky. In fact his photographic journey began 12 years ago when he might well have chosen painting as an appropriate medium to give expression to this predominant interest.
Christophe’s eye is totally attuned to colour – to the ever dynamic visual impact of colour in all its shades. Not by chance his sources of inspiration are not exclusively photographers. Among his favourites are Peter Doig, a Canadian painter, the print artist Hasui Kawase and film maker Hayao Miysaki – “I really appreciate the way the latter brings the weather to life” he says in regard of this Japanese artist. While working he always has them in mind.
Attracted by something magic about the weather, something mysterious, Christophe worked on the series Blizzard 1(Blizzard 2, Blizzard 3). A project developed in different places where the snow, the rain and the fog are the undisputed protagonists. Natural and urban landscapes alike are imbued with the same silent restlessness – the imperceptible noise of the snowflakes and the cold white mantle creating a strange perception of time. When asked about the particular and manifest feeling that only bad weather arouses in him and prompts him to capture on film, he simply answers with a laconic “Parce que …”. Quoting the French painter Pierre Soulage, known for his stark black paintings, he evokes a personal unconscious track, work that follows instinct.
Strong, captivating and suggestive, Christophe’s photography makes us reflect on the relationship between man, the surrounding world and nature – as if a rainstorm or a snowfall reminds us, of being creatures at the mercy of the elements. “Climate will survive us!” exclaims the artist, while reflecting on the eternal and dramatic nature of climate change.
In the mood for rain is another itinerant series shot in Hong Kong, India (Kerala, West Bengal, Raja), Tokyo, New York, and France – countries where the artist went after collecting and studying documents about them on the Internet. Here humidity is ever present in the air, highlighting the colours of the lush nature, of the clothing and street scenes. Quite the opposite, Snjór is an ode to the silent white of Iceland where during winter the scenery is of a pure white countryside, kilometres of candid expanses. The exception is a series of shots of the Reykjavik suburbs. Christophe has been there seven times, also taking shots at night. He ended up selecting only the white images and closed the series with a zoom of a painted canvas.
Commenting on Hong Kong sous la Pluie, the artist gives voice to his absolute gratitude and happiness for shooting there. “Honk Kong was a dream for me”, he says of his two three-week stays in the territory. After Paris sous la pluie, he planned to continue this rain theme by seeking out a real monsoon, in a city where the winds are the wettest in the world. The results are startling! Christophe offers us a unique perspective of the lights of the bustling Asian city. Wet surfaces reflect and enhance the colours of the streets, signs and buildings all over town. Perfectly at their ease despite the great commotion, the attitude of the inhabitants brings to mind the words of the French philosopher Émile-Auguste Chartier : “Le soleil est bon, la pluie est bonne, tout bruit est musique. Voir, entendre, flairer, goûter, toucher, ce n’est qu’une suite de bonheurs. Même les peines, même les douleurs, même la fatigue, tout cela a une saveur de vie”. Christophe’s subjects and his worldwide perigrinations are very much associated with the special light shed by bad weather – a very “interesting condition, to which no many people pay much attention”.
Text by Costanza Francesconi
Images © Christope Jacrot