in frame inframe gabrielle duplantier basque pays country france spain black and white analog camera film artist french photographer photography documentary contemporary mood kalel koven valentine zeler interview process land rural traditions traditional

Interview Gabrielle Duplantier

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Can you describe your photographic series  »Basque Country »?
Basque Country is a series of images made over several years, with the simple idea of a very free illustration of this territory that stretches over a bit of France and a bit of Spain.

How did it start? And how long have you been photographing these places?

I followed the advice of my father who, seeing me frantically taking thousands of photos without a real theme, suggested that I give myself a framework and explore a specific subject, the Basque Country just next door to me was quickly obvious; my fiancé was Basque, so I asked him to show me his country, it was in 2002. I discovered the Basque country with my camera, I was enchanted in this contemplation, getting lost on the paths, sleeping in the fields. After having immersed myself in its finery and its wild nature, I wanted to go and see the remarkable sites mentioned in the travel guides, to attend the festivals and carnivals, the religious processions of the Basque people. These trips there, at an carefree age, were among the happiest moments of my life, my photographic practice was built and diversified at that time.

Why did you choose analog and BW film?
It is simply my mode of photographic expression.

There is a very cinematographic side, sometimes surreal and enigmatic in your photos, How do you work? Is it mostly about wandering?
Except for some portraits, there is a lot of unexpected and improvisation, I do not premeditate. Sometimes the rendering even escapes me a little. It is surprise, emotion and admiration that guide me. I take a lot of pictures, I keep very few. I need time to find my angle of approach then a unity, the meaning is revealed progressively. I like to do things like that, like automatic writing.

Why show these lands as mystical?
Maybe it comes from my way of looking at the world, and from a quest for the elusive? For me nature reflects something sacred, the beauty and energy of people, the animal world are fascinating. The Basque Country is vast spaces, valleys, mountains, the sea, thousand-year-old buildings, bumpy roads and chapels, an ancient people who live close to the land close to the earth and with a very mysterious language: mysticism in itself.

Do you continue to photograph the Basque Country? Has your fascination for the Basque Country evolve with your photographs?
My work on the subject came to an end around 2005, after a first exhibition in the Basque Country. After a break of a few years, every time I had the opportunity to cross the Basque Country for assignments or walks, I took some images that were added to the first ones. Sometimes I get bored with this subject, I have the impression of having seen too much, of repeating myself. Sometimes, on the contrary, I have a strong desire to return to it. In any case, I am certain that my subject is only the Basque Country seen through the small prism of my sensations: this country is so dense, multiple, it has a strong history, its own language, it is immense, enough to continue to photographing all your life.

Do you have a publishing project in mind? Or an end to the project?
I would have liked and still like to see this series published, one day perhaps. In my two books published by Lamaindonne, « Volta » and « Terres Basses », there are photos of the Basque Country mixed with other diverse images. David Fourré, my editor, did not want to limit us to a particular subject. But soon, in the fall, will come out « Basa Andere », published by Origini, a selection of photos never published on the subject, a stroll through strange landscapes, accompanied by poems.

Your top 5 photographic books ?
Even if I discovered photography through books before the arrival of the internet, I own few photo books. Some had a powerful impact when I was young:

Julia Margaret Cameron
Fiction, Michael Ackerman
Roma, Koudelka
The Roma of Romania, Yves Leresche
The Sex of Angels, Tiane Doan Na Champassak

Interview by Valentine Zeler

Photographer’s Links: WebsiteInstagramFacebook
Photo Book « Volta » & « Terre Basses » – Published by Lamaindonne