So far away, yet so close (2009-2016), photo essay by Baptiste de Ville d’Avray
The project “So far away, yet so close” brings together 7 years of exploration on a real territory, during a boom in urban development – a place that is resolutely contemporary and yet photographed in a timeless manner.
Baptiste de Ville d’Avray originally approached Morocco during regular short visits.
He was soon attracted by its unique Atlantic atmosphere and its coastline spanning thousands of kilometres, between the Algerian and Mauritanian borders. This country became a character in its own right within Baptiste de Ville d’Avray’s world. He was to revisit and chisel away at this material, honing a land that springs from his imagination. He thus transforms slices of life and atmospheres into stories with his camera. The lighting is always soft. The characters are like silent actors, appearing to perform in a set invented by and for the photographer.
In 2009, he began the series Mediterrannea Saidia, focusing on the “Plan Azur” project, with the scheduled creation of six seaside resorts. This series features the concrete sprawl over the coastline, through architecture and landscapes whose residents appear lost. Shortly after the events that shook the Arab countries, he continued his work on the coast with the series Witnesses on the horizon (A l’horizon les témoins). These photographs capture a latent expectation in the air, at once calm yet full of tension, which can be found in many Mediterranean countries. Facing the sea, the witnesses wander. They pause, impassive. With their eyes turned to the future, they seem to deny themselves the right to dream.
In 2012, he moved to Morocco and began a contemplative photographic fiction compiled over the course of his travels and encounters, with So far away, yet so close (L’apparition d’un lointain si proche). This was the starting point for playing on the fringes of his practice, by moving away from a more documentary and serial approach. In each photo, time appears to slow down, with each of the titles reconstituting the pieces of a puzzle to form a fable.
He later embarked on a nomadic photography project The Coast : another border (Le littoral, une autre frontière), which follows the Moroccan side of the Mediterranean bypass that was never completed, originally intended to link up two countries, Algeria and Morocco. In a cinematographic style, the author reveals the radical transformations of the landscape.
Living between two continents, and flying many times over the Atlantic, he began Postcard from Morocco in 2016: a kind of visual and imaginary correspondence. In this series, he presents suspended moments devoid of exoticism.