Clarisse d’Arcimoles | London, UK



Short Bio:

Performance is at the heart of emerging French photographer Clarisse d’Arcimoles’ (b. 1986) work. Based in London she studied Set Design for Performance at Central Saint Martins followed by a Postgraduate course in photography, her work combines these two interests.
Fascinated by the idea of going back in time, and photography’s strength to make memories tangible, Clarisse’s’ work derives from sustained relationships, sense of place and history. From re-staging personal snapshots to anonymous photographic portraits, Clarisse takes satisfaction living within the fiction she is creating.
Throughout the years, Clarisse d’Arcimoles’ work has been enthusiastically received with exhibitions and awards in the UK and internationally. Her last solo show Forgotten Tale took place at the Photographers’ Gallery in summer 2016. Recent exhibitions include Rise and Fall, Concrete and Glass (2010), Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London and Adelaide (2011), Forget Nostalgia (2013) Breese little, Women Artists Woman collector, Lloyds club (2014).
Over the years, Clarisse has also collaborated on an array of theatre projects and museums using my unique approach towards immersive multi-media.

What is your work about?

Forget Nostalgia is a photographic project in which I am imagining what my photographic life at the local photographer’s studio would have been a century ago. I focus my attention on this chapter in history of self-presentation when people have dressed and posed for their portraits so that future generations can see them in their best.
Photographing myself in a parade of shifting styles, re-creating scenic backdrops and posing in Victorian costume, I have re-staged postcard scenes and re-enacted them.
I found Photographs of unknown sitters especially intriguing. Anonymous to the viewer, and disconnected from all that linked them to a place, to a family or to a friend, their faces look confidently out, knowing full well who they are while pausing and pretending to be someone else.
Self assured in front of the camera and surrounded by various grayscale monochrome or tinted backdrops, playing the artist, photographer and model’s role, I physically explored the mystery of those fragments of popular and creative portraiture, experiencing the common desire of being remembered a century later.

How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?

As a girl, while looking at old black and white photographs, I convinced myself that that the world was not then in colour, since then I always wanted to enter the monochrome world as used to be. Those Victorian scenes were last feature at The Photographers’ Gallery through 14 cabinet cards. I first source an original photograph, built a set to replicate the background – painted it monochrome or tinted and then photographed it in colour so that traces of the true process are left visible. Any apparent old-style tinting is achieved by colour paint on the original set-up, not in post-production. It all fits with the conceit of taking literally the instinctive analogue assumption that photographs depict the world as it is. That may sound like an anachronism in the digital world, but my work is about reimagining the past, and that assumption is an aspect of it; and on the other hand my process can be seen as post-modern too, as the recreation of a photograph refutes the original’s claim for indexical veracity.