Dancing between Paris and Berlin, Léonard Condemine flashes dazzling handmade masks above provocative bodies in nature through his original photography. Self proclaimed “Identity Dweller”, Condemine experiments with what it means to live in any one particular identity. Is it ever even permanent?
Léonard adorns his models in (sometimes only) body paint and found objects from nature. As a result, there is an eminent nod to tribal art and fashion. One could say that the primary focus of the photographs is on the expressive masks that he creates. But the images tell stories of their own. Whether it is deep in the woods at dusk, wading through a river in the thick of the night, or feeding a fire in the desert, the photographs relay a sense of character. Therefore, they whisper to us shamelessly “take me or leave me, I am what I am.”
The masks, on their own, are influenced by historical mask-making in various cultures. Again, there is a strong sense of tribal affiliation but also modernity using mirrored mosaics and industrial materials.
On his tumblr website, there are sometimes also glimpses of what seems like behind-the-scenes action featuring Léonard and a crew. Everyone is clearly enjoying the adventure of their art. Speaking of adventure, this is especially relevant with his work. In a modern day of over-crowded cities, constant information, and political uncertainty, his anonymized photographs feel remote and far removed from the day to day. They lure us to wander from identity and into the vulnerable unknown.