Is it reasonable to do a photo shoot outside, in this awful and windy place called La Défense, when it’s 1°C and you have a toothache? Absolutely not.
However, I am solely at fault.
After writing an article that evoked the post-apocalyptic worlds of “Blade Runner” and “Matrix”, the only place that seemed to me to be able to illustrate my words was none other than La Défense.
For the uninitiated, La Défense is a business district born in the 1960s near Paris, built on a slab where the skyscrapers are more or less beautiful, depending on the era. To put it simply, the buildings of the 60s and 70s are particularly outdated, unlike those of the last ten years which have taken their name literally by tickling higher and higher clouds. The original idea was clearly to compete with Manhattan, but despite the latest constructions, I assure you that it is a complete failure as a whole. The place, where I worked for almost 2 years when I was 20, left me with such memories that I swore to myself to never work there again. The choice to take photos there illustrating post-apocalyptic worlds says a lot about the esteem that I do not have for the place, dehumanized and dehumanizing.
This being said, you understand now why it is with a heart full of joy that I headed to this shooting location in mid-December.
The felt air temperature was –4000°C and the wind which constantly dominates this architectural ensemble did not help at all. What didn’t help either was a toothache that distorted my face.
Saved by aspirin powder directly rubbed on the gums (an old trick that I kept from rugby that I (not) brilliantly practiced, the only girl on the field invaded by boys who were afraid of hurting me – so we won) – and shot by Cedric, my photographer who was as frozen as me, I have rarely been so efficient in closing a photo shoot.
We fought with this silly origami which flew with the wind and absolutely did not want to stay still on my hand, but I tamed it manu militari, simply because I was freezing despite two coats.
You will therefore appreciate my frozen and asymmetrical face on these photos which – thanks to the talent of Cedric – are all in all very successful. It must be said that Blade Runner is one of his favorite films and that he was keen to render the atmosphere of this cinematographic jewel.
On another level, recreating the Hong Kong of the 60s evoked in “In the Mood for Love” can be difficult, especially when it comes to the character of Maggie Cheung, who spends a lot of time drinking and smoking in a bedroom. Taking a languorous attitude while lying on a bed when the desire to sleep hits may be complicated.
It’s just as hard to look inspired when you’re drinking a fizzy non-alcoholic drink that has to pass for the purposes of the photo as champagne, and getting in your nose the smoke of Armenian paper, which must pass for cigarette smoke.
In a nutshell and as usual, as you will have understood, photography, like cinema, is the world of illusions.
April 28, 2023