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Marie Quéau, Gojira, 2010

Hyères Photo Focus: Marie Quéau

We continue profiling the young and talented photographers that exhibited their work during this year's fashion/music/photo festival in Hyères

Marie Quéau, one of the youngest photographers in this year’s selection at the Hyères Festival in France, combines a pragmatic research process with a timely exploration of contemporary image-making. The 25-year-old photographer's 'Gorija' project combines scientific-like photographs with constructed collages and eye-jarring digital images – a cabinet of curiosities exploring and exposing the contemporary photographic image.

Dazed Digital: Your Gojira work can be read like a scientific study, a presentation of anecdotal evidence exploring the  history and ideas of the infamous monster.
Marie Quéau: Godzilla is a sea monster and a Hybrid, a merging between a gorilla and a whale born from the atomic bombings. The character embodied our fears of nuclear technology and came to represent everything that the Japanese abandoned to the Americans. The monster is dark and ambivalent; he attacks and defends at the same time. Godzilla is a modern bogeymen or scarecrow. He represents important questions dealing with pollution and what Man rejects into nature and his environment.

DD: The process of research seems very much at the heart of your work.
Marie Quéau: My practice is similar to that of a researcher in his lab. The feeling of observation or examination runs throughout my work. I have been collecting images of Godzilla for over six months, searching for every piece of information I could find about the monster and the island of Oshima where he lives. A work such as Gojira mixes all kind of images. The pictures become so diverted that they become crossroads of numerous unknown influences. It takes a lot of steps to find the right edit or montage, the one that will be at the edge between fiction and documentary. I adopt the role of an editor – manipulating different kinds of images to give meaning to the monster and the monstrous.

DD: The visual language of science and science-fiction also plays a big role in your work. What is interesting to you about this genre?
Marie Quéau: Science-fiction is very important to me, because it is at the crossroads of all the other cinematographic genres. Science fiction is an encounter between playfulness and seriousness; questions about fantasy and society. I find it interesting that most major movie directors made a science-fiction movie during their careers. Scientific headways are a great source of inspiration to science-fiction, and scientists often use Sci-Fi novels as source material for ethical debates. I am fascinated by science-fiction, because it makes me both think and dream.

DD: I was particularly interested in your use of found and digital images such as video grabs and gifs in your work.
Marie Quéau: What I like about found material is the idea of ‘patches’, or in French, ‘pièces rapportées’. At times my pictures may seem like they have no source, like the pictures annotated with the term « unknown ». Today images are being re-blogged so often without the name of the author that the origin is becoming lost.

Popular culture proposes a multitude of layers and reading possibilities, it keeps its door open to everyone. In my work I am searching for potentialities that exist in every element. It is a conceptual gymnasium between the ‘thing’ as it is seen, its image, and what it can become.

DD: And how relevant do you see them in the future of photographic image-making?
Marie Quéau: I do not think that it is the type of image that is important, but the image itself. I like classical picture taking as much as laboratory manipulations, but we are working in a world where all kinds of images coexist, so using retouching/processing is a reflection of that reality. Digital manipulation enables me to rework the patterns or subjects – to insist on textures and choose the how to define the image.

It has to do with kinetic-art or, today, mediums such as GIF’s. Working with different media meets my idea of photography, combining layers of meaning from the most subtle to the most playful. My research methodology is to look everywhere and all the time. You could compare my work to the thinking of Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes”