a b o u t . . .


A sense of mystery surrounds the landscapes you photograph; how do you find these places? Do they have a spiritual appeal to you, as well as an aesthetic appeal ?

Most of the images we have made were made in a radius of 30 kms. We explore the land slowly, carefully, in search of the unspeakable, the impalpable. In search of an emotion, a thrill. Looking for a rock which will soon take on the appearance of an Altar. In search of a grove of trees which will become sanctuary. And, to quote the poem on our website, in search of a tree which "roots sink into the ground and which trunk rises towards the sky". In that sense, indeed, our images are in part spiritual.

The titles you choose, such as ‘Chaos’ and ‘Ravage’, and the images themselves convey a sense of foreboding or imminent catastrophe. What are your thoughts on the notion of ‘the end of the world’.

In our work, we wish to arouse the notion of passage, in-between, in between life and death, in between death and life. Idea of fragility, vulnerability. These notions, even though they may seem dark at first, are also often linked to a notion of hope. In "Chaos", can be grasped the idea of chaos in which everything collapses, but also the idea of birth emerging from chaos. In the image we named "Chaos", the two boulders surrounding the body can depict a tomb, but also the womb. Intentional double vision. Ambiguity willingly sought for. Interpretation is left open to each individual.

On your website there is a beautiful poem, which begins ‘Two glances of which trajectories oppose’. On this theme of two viewers, can you explain the process of working as a pair, and how it differs from working alone ?

From the very beginning, creating together was obvious. And since we first started, it never occured to us not to. Creating together is a need.

Creating together allows us to surpass ourselves, to go further and shouldered one another, to nurture each other and thus nourish our images. In the text to which you refer we talk of two glances whose trajectories are opposed (one ascending to heaven and the other descending to the depths of the earth), which refers to our respective personalities, deep inside, and is the origin of the ambiguity and double reading of our work (as mentioned above).

Creating together allows us to consolidate our choices, but also to exchange points of view, to constantly challenge one another, discuss, parley... until being able to mature each image in its entirety. Composition, framing, nothing is left to chance. Following this path enables us to reach what is essential and prevents us from stepping out of the route we chose. On our way, it also frequently happens that the same idea, the same vision arises simultaneously in both our minds.

Your work has been likened to that of the art of the Romantic painters, and later the Pictorialist photographers. How much, if at all, do you look to the work of earlier masters and the techniques they used ?

Here is the definition of romantism :

"Romanticism is characterized by a willingness to explore all possibilities of art to express the ecstasies and the torments of the heart and soul: it is thus a reaction of feeling against reason, exciting mystery and fantastic and seeking escape and delight in the dream, the morbid and the sublime, the exotic and the past. Ideal or nightmare of a passionate sensibility and melancholy ..."

We actually have the feeling to perfectly fit to that movement. These are feelings, values that we feel very deeply.

However, we have never been attracted to romantic painting and do not think of having been influenced by that. We are much more attracted to the expressionist painting.

Also, when our work was compared to that of Pictorialist photographers, at no time we had thought of this comparison, even though some similarity is evident. We approached our photographic work in a very archaic, instinctive way, with no desire to refer to a particular movement.

We opted for a photographic process that is closest to the feelings and sensations that we want to transcribe. Black and white conveys the idea of timelessness. The large format involves rigour, slowness, structure, reflection. All these constraints both make us keep our trajectory and also allow us to move forward. For all these reasons we chose an old process, but never our will was to follow the technique used by early photography masters.

Interview conducted by

Curator of photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Susanna Brown