Interview: The Emotion Triggering Photography of Aurélie R.

Aurélie Raidron, aka Aurélie R., is a young photographer, living in Lyon, France. Her dark photography plays with the codes of fashion and drama to soak her pictures with human philosophy. Her portraits, self-portraits, and macro photographs are full of interesting ambivalence, to lost the beholder and help him find his own convictions. So, for beautiful.bizarre, Aurélie accepted to answer my binary questionnaire.

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Darkness or Light?

Darkness. I think it’s a necessary second skin. Not that I’m not interested in light, I wouldn’t be a photographer if it were the case, but it is like a bad habit you cannot get rid of and whose presence justify single-handedly the very existence of the struggle with darkness. Without this struggle, there would be no photography, no words, nothing. There maybe would be peace, but it’s not enough to sculpt a being.

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Fetishism or Obsession?

Obsessions. With the plural form. Microorganisms have become my playground. They regularly give birth to some of my photography series. Hétérotrophe for example, is reproducing still life in the style of the 17th century.  Sfumato is a study of rotten plants through glass. My current series, « Soundscapes » is a visual echo to the work of music composer Eliane Radigue. I’ve used mold, which I turned for this project into landscapes. Apart of my obsession of the infinitesimally small, there is the one of the infinitely absurd and paradoxical, contradictions that lead me to the topics of codes, human tropisms and societal wounds.

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Living or Dead? 

I make a point of honor to not using dead animals in my creations. Neither in my clothes, or accessories. It is important for me to be a vegan activist. As for Death in general, I remember an anecdote which, to my mind, is the key of all my work. I was 19 and my mother told me, “You are only obsessed by the end.” She was terribly right. The end. Its evocation has such a power on my work it would be artistically inconceivable to use it visually. I’m taking a perverse pleasure to make references to Death without ever naming it nor showing it. It’s not superstition, to the contrary, it is giving its presence a more effective and malicious aspect. There is nothing more powerful than something you can’t recognize at first sight.

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Beautiful or Bizarre?

The human issues are staying the same : only the symbols are evolving. The fact of using codes to twist them into something bizarre is the very principle of culture. This need to be reassured on the aspect to fully understand the content is murdering the notion of beauty and giving to the bizarre a wrong definition.

Clean or Dirty?

Despite being a fan of horror movies, I am hardly ever touched by bloody visuals. Photographer Erwin Olaf is, according to me, a master in the art of evoking violent and terrible things without visual references. When you’re turning common things into unspeakable things, it is terribly effective.

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Wise or Provocative?

In art, wisdom is a muzzle, provocation an act of despair. I try to keep a cold and refined aesthetic approach to give a feeling of awkwardness. It is also a way to question cultural evolution and offer tools to the beholder to analyse it. For example, how can we justify that nude pictures of children can shock while fashion industry is over-sexualizing them? I’m trying to show that paradox in my series Before That Age, with little girls, bare torso, which make-up is totally destroyed.

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Matter or Mind?

My displays of bodies are not gratuitous. It’s not here to trigger desire. It’s not either calling to judgments, nor eroticism. I like to use it as a witness, a language, in the service of the concept. Mind is prevailing in my work, I don’t give much freedom to body as I don’t believe in the human emancipation.

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Private or Public?

I have a social phobia but communicate a lot. I like sharing. Before being a photographer, I am a singer and singing teacher, and often in contact with others. The experiences of others are useful, but I often feel oppressed when surrounded by too many people.

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Words or Images?

I remember receiving sheer lessons through books. Some people need a boss, a guru or a sensei. My mentors always have been words. A book is a safeguard toward which you can always come back. I write. I am working on a graphic novel with illustrator Gaétan Noir on the privatization and control of Nature and biodiversity. With another illustrator, Célia Dumont, I have a project on organic cooking. As for my novel, I need to finish it… It is realistic fiction about a father and a son, struggling with their angst and a powerful carnivorous plant called Satie that can change their relationship… but images are a language too. Mute, they are able to free us from the mark to focus on the concept.

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Dream or Nightmare?

The only dreams I have are unreachable. And it’s fine. They make me humble. For the rest, there is only time. I have so many things to do : a disc with my band Chenille, the graphic novel with Gaétan, the project with Célia, my novel to finish… I’m running, struggling, but I enjoy that so much! Why not writing and directing a short film?

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