Yasmine Laraqui is a French photographer who forms her work around a series of different concepts. In the same way a director controls his film, Yasmine does exactly the same; she manipulates the scenario and influences her models around a 'script' that is the drawn out concept. We see this brilliant display of themed photography most prominently in her series entitled Sans Degre, where she stages an individual in front of a simplistic background that gives a laconic quality to reflect deep contemplation. This confidence of control and the ability to decipher an photographic concept is what really caught our attention to Laraqui's work. We spoke with her as she told us more about her unique approach.
Dazed Digital: Can you explain the concept behind your series 'Without Degree' (Sans Degre)?
Yasmine Laraqui: I chose this name to contrast with the multiplicity of sense that an image (whatever the image) can have, I wanted to play with the viewers. Although, when you read " without degree " you are automatically driven to look for the second degree or even for the first degree of what is presented to you. People always try to understand things they see, I find that very funny!
The pictures I propose here are very simple and clear to read, just like if I wanted to say "what you see is what you get" but in the same time, that simplicity make them complex, each one will see something he wants or will be touched by something that another one will not even see, so it's without degree.
DD: You focus heavily on the isolated / trapped individual - to you what does this represent?
Yasmine Laraqui: I think that everybody is alienated, one-way or another. Whoever is taken in his daily round, his habits, dullness meets one day an alienation which is appropriate for him or her. That bluesy feeling can make you wonder about many existential questions, anyway that makes you introspecting. I wanted to catch that moment in the photographs of Without Degree, where a man or a woman makes his or her time stops for a while, doing nothing but thinking in their own ways.
So I think that this is what It represents to me, some kind of alienated people introspecting. In fact, if I have to confess my own vision of life, it would be quite absurd, a great non-sens, then it's probably something that people can feel watching my photographs : absurdity.
DD:Why do you choose to work around a theme in your photography?
Yasmine Laraqui: Because psychology fascinates me. When I work around a same theme with different persons, my work feels more complete to me and the results can be stunning! Themes are just alibis to share a same experience with totally different personalities sometimes in totally different universes, I think that's one a great chance photographers have!
DD: Do you let your subjects attempt to portray the scene or do you prefer to keep more control over the direction of your imagery?
Yasmine Laraqui: I need to control the direction, but first I need to find the subject who has his own and strong universe and who will bring it to the world I’ll create, so it's a real collaboration. I have meetings with my models before shooting, so I can create a universe he or she will be relaxed with but always in my creative line.
DD: What are you currently working on?
Yasmine Laraqui: I'm working on a new photographs series, I think it's going to be more graphic than my earlier work, I want to play more with forms, lights and colors for a while. Otherwise, I'm also working on a video project, a kind of avant-garde film but I think it's going to take some good months before I'll finish it, we'll see. To finish I have some exhibitions to prepare for the end of the month and the beginning of 2012, in Paris and Morocco.