Photographer: Sarah Seené's Incontrôlables Poésies

Sarah Seené is a french analog photographer based in Montreal, working with 35mm and instant photography. In the darkroom, she hand-processes and hand-prints her images.

Sarah's world is composed of a strange atmospheres, something existing between dreams and poetry, tinted with hints of a lost childhood. Her images are filled with loneliness and longing, seemingly to be suspended in time. For the viewer, that is especially true. We are drawn into Sarah's world. We slow down to take in the many nuances present in her photos, to savor her use of color, composition and theme, and for a moment, we forget everything else, preferring to remain in this dream world, where we lose and find ourselves simultaneously. In the series "Incontrôlables Poésies," the sense of abandonment and solitude is palpable as we take in the once-inhabited spaces where Sarah dared to venture.   

1-300JPEG.jpeg

This series, created with the financial support of Bourse de la Région Poitou-Charentes in France, gathers 65 unique color Polaroids in the form of multiple puzzles. It brings light to the poetic spaces of abandoned buildings in France, where time does its work and where nature is taking back its rights. Since couple of years, the interest in abandoned places gave birth to the Urban Exploration movement (called ''Urbex''). My process exceeds the idea of the photography as a witness. It tries to put back pieces of a etiolated past in which I can make my own projection. Polaroid, unstable medium with its ephemeral elements, its small format and its price, response to the time's lack of control on the environment and the human life. In almost all photographies, wandering characters crystallize the poetry of abandonment. Disappearance of objects, ghosts of an ancient time in those spaces which use to be related to work, entertainment or intimacy. In these vestiges of the past, I wanted to imagine their traces to give them back life.

Sarah's work has been shown in about 30 exhibitions, solo and collective, in Paris, Berlin, Prague, Milan, Amsterdam, London, Montreal and New-York. It's been published in a lot of international magazines and webzines.

She's part of The 12.12 project and World Wide Women, two international collectives of women analog photographers. She's the co-founder of a long distance collaboration project called I'll be your mirror, with the american photographer Sarah Elise Abramson.

You can see more of Sarah Seené's work on her website and on Instagram.  

We recently has the singular pleasure of speaking with Sarah Seené about her series "Incontrôlables Poésies." 

PRYME: Can you tell me about your history with photography? When did you start shooting, what medium did you start with, how long have you been shooting instant photos, etc?  Do you have any special training or education in photography or are you self-taught?

SS: When I was a child, I was taking a lot [of photos] with disposable cameras. When I think about my pictures, I was already composing my sets. When I was 17, my mother asked me if I wanted to do any artistic activities, and I choose analog photography. So I studied photography when I was a teenager after school, just because it was a great activity, but after high school, I learned Literature and Cinema at the University.

PRYME: Do you have a degree or diploma at the university level? Is photography/film-making your primary job?

SS: I don't have any photography diploma. The internet was my way to be connected on the different platforms where I was showing my pictures. Five years ago, people started to ask me to exhibit my Polaroids or to publish them in paper or web magazines.

Now, photography is my primary job. I take digital pictures as a freelancer (dance or theater pictures for example), but of course I prefer to work with analog photography for bands or singers, for backstage sessions or photoshoots.

PRYME: How did the idea for Incontrôlables Poésies arise? Was it something you conceived of and then approached the Region of Poitou-Charentes about making the project, or did they contact you? 

SS: The Region of Poitou-Charentes (in the west of France) was proposing a call for artists to win a grant to create an artistic project to valorize the region. At this time, I was discovering urban exploration (Urbex) and I was fascinated by abandoned places. I applied and I got the grant, so this is how ''Incontrôlables poésies'' was born.

PRYME: When was this series done and over how many months/years did you work on it? 

SS: This series has been created during a period of one year, between 2014 and 2015. It was finished in October 2015, and it was celebrated in a beautiful exhibition in the incredible Le Mouton Noir Gallery in Poitiers, France.

PRYME: What was it like for you to enter these abandoned places?

SS: I'm a very sensitive person. I can feel the energy of a place (positive or negative). When you get in this kind of place, it's very strange. A mix between anxiety and joy. For me, the most important thing to keep in mind while shooting in abandoned places is respect. If the door is closed, I don't break in. I just enter if I can.

PRYME: Were you alone when you took the photos or did you have someone accompany you? 

SS: One of the rules is not to be alone. I went alone once though, in La Rochelle. I was in the city for a singer's photoshoot but I knew there were abandoned places in this city, so I wanted to explore them. I found an abandoned factory, and I got in through the broken window to go in a chaotic scene, into an office where all the wire wool was falling off the ceiling. It was incredibly and naturally beautiful, so I wanted to make a fast self-portrait with my Polaroid, my tripod and my self-timer. Also, I wanted to change my clothes. I had a beautiful black dress in my backpack, just in case. So it was incredibly dangerous to change my clothes in this room which was dirty and where someone could come in at anytime. Anyway, I did it in a few minutes, and I took 2 pictures before leaving. But it's a bit crazy and it's not recommended.

PRYME: Can you describe anything you experienced which may have influenced your photography or how you decided to capture the decay/abandonment around you?

SS: What influenced me to make this series was my first Urbex with a few photographer friends (Lucile Le Doze, Fred Vinolas, Cedric Nicolas, Emmanuel Perret, and Michael Meniane, nldr) in an abandoned fun fair in Berlin (Germany). It was one of my more intense experiences in photography. The adrenaline I felt was incredible and this type of decor was making sense to me. Of course, it's really interesting to see the effects of time and at the same time nature taking control, but it's more than that. I think it's a correlation with the abandonment and loneliness, which are a big part of my artist statement and of my life. It's really incredible to imagine traces of people' past.

PRYME: After completing the series, have you since gone back to visit these same places, to see if the marks of time are even more profound?

SS: Sometimes, I come back to a few places, and I find new traces of people like me. But most of the time, these types of places are being vandalized or used for drug traffic. One or two times, I've seen trees growing out of a house after some time had passed.

PRYME: Has the experience of making this series had any lasting effects on your photography in general? Do you approach or see things differently as a result of this project? What kind of film and camera(s) did you use to capture this series?  

SS: This series was shot with a Polaroid SX-70 camera and Impossible films. It's one of my favourite series, more accomplished and effective. For the first time, my sets are minimalist because abandoned places are naturally incredible. The colors and textures on the walls, the vegetation growing on the objects, the light between the holes of the window are extraordinary beautiful and singular. But it was important for me to invent stories with some characters in my pictures. My friends were my models, so we lived crazy adventures together and while creating some strange fairytales at the same time.

Many thanks to Sarah Seené for taking the time to speak with us and share her incredible work. 


CONNECT

Anne Silver is an instant photography aficionado who lives in Paris, France and is a member of the 12:12 Project. Connect with Anne Silver on her Website and on Instagram!


Photographer: Zoltan Vadaszi's Adverse Events

003.jpg

Zoltan Vadaszi is a Hungarian photographer who lives in Budapest. He began making photographs 13 years ago, starting with digital photography and switching to analog photography three years ago. He is particularly passionate about instant photography and loves to be able to manipulate the film to produce wild and unexpected outcomes. Vadaszi received a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2012 and works part-time as a biomedical engineer. He is also enrolled in a Master of Arts in Photography program at Kaposvár University in Hungary, a way to compliment his already long history with photography and push the limits of his technique and artistry. He finds his university experience to be very important to him, stating that he is fascinated by his professors and inspired by the university environment. Vadaszi's work has been shown extensively, in solo and group expositions, in print, online, and he has pieces in the Hungarian Museum of Photography. 

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Zoltan Vadaszi about his series "Adverse Events". This series draws the viewer into a rich, visual landscape, animated by an otherworldly ambiance. In this universe created by Vadaszi's photos, it seems that the sun is perpetually just about to set, as an eerie glow illuminates each scene, highlighting the play of light and shadow. We feel a sense of something about to happen. It's not necessarily something apocalyptic or catastrophic, but there is a sense of impending drama nonetheless, a certain tension among the elements depicted in the images. The series is a dialogue between man and nature, exploring how the human footprint has changed the natural world, how Mother Nature has responded to this presence, how she has continued to evolve, despite any adversity she may have experienced, and how sometimes there is a certain harmony in the relationship that exists between the two seemingly opposing forces. This is the beauty of photography: ordinary moments are rendered into something transcendent. Vasadzi's photos pull us in, inviting us to pose questions about the scene unfolding before us, about how it makes us feel, about what associations we have with what we are seeing as we try to create a storyline that connects to our schema. 

In this body of work, Vadaszi intentionally creates "adverse effects," in which he reproduces and controls to the extent possible what would otherwise be considered technical errors, such as overexposing and or underexposing the photos, manipulating the possibilities and the potential the instant film he loves working with. He is drawn by the aesthetics and the unpredictability of the medium. Despite making controlled "errors" there rests an element of uncertainty as to exactly how the final image will turn out. This is what captivates Vadaszi and compels him to keep coming back to instant film. 
 
When he first used expired Impossible Project film, he realized that the photos were overexposed, but they had a strange, fascinating texture. He started experimenting with this kind of imaging and later, while shooting with film that hadn’t yet expired, he purposefully overexposed the photographs in an attempt to achieve the same effect. By going deeper, as artists tend to do, his next question was how he could intensify these—or other kinds of—errors?

After making the overexposed photos, he next attempted to underexpose them as much as possible during the scanning process. This created a rainbow-colored Newton effect on the images, since the protective layer of the Impossible Project film was in direct contact with the glass scanner plate. That was one of the results he loved the most. The unpredictability of the Newton rings represents the entire project, and there is always a little surprise at the end of the scanning process. By placing the photos on the glass plate of the scanner, these events can be reproducible to some extent, but an element of randomness is still retained.

During this project, Vadaszi's goal was to compare the perfection of nature with human intervention and to find the harmony between them—if indeed there is any. Buildings and abandoned structures sometimes co-exist very comfortably with nature, and it is exciting to see natural forces retake their territory over the years.
On the other hand, he says, it is always calming to examine nature in its undisturbed state.

Vadaszi sites many sources of inspiration. He really loves the entire instant artist community, and says it's hard to highlight names but Britt Grimm Valentine, Ina Echternach, Lisa Toboz, and Lela Gruen are really inspiring for me. He is a member of the InstART Group, Hungary and also all the members are really inspiring. He also loves the photography of Vera A Fehér, János Vachter, the entire Errorism Group and László Gálos. And of course he has to mention Laszlo Moholy-Nagy as well, if we are talking about masters of photography.

Vadaszi's work has been widely exhibited and featured worldwide online and in print. Of the numerous showings of his work, some of his recent solo exhibitions include: "Adverse Events" at Mecsek Photo Club in Pécs, Hungary in June 2017 and "Adverse Events" at Massolit Books and Cafe in Budapest in July 2016. He has shown in group exhibitions that include: "Mono", A juried international photography exhibition at PH21 Gallery in Budapest in June 2017 and "Project 8", an Impossible Project Group Exhibition held in Berlin in October 2016. Vadaszi's work is also held in public collections that include the Hungarian Museum of Photography in Kecskemét, Hungary. He has been featured in print and online via the 2018 Photodarium Polaroid Calendar, The Impossible Project Magazine, and the Film Shooters Collective. In addition, Vadaszi is also a member of the Association of Hungarian Photographers, the InstART Group in Hungary, and the MobilArt Group in Hungary. 

You can connect with Zoltan Vadaszi on Instagram, on his blog, and on his website


CONNECT

Anne Silver is an instant photography aficionado who lives in Paris, France and is a member of the 12:12 Project. Connect with Anne Silver on her Website and on Instagram!