Francois Lafrance: filling up empty places

Those who know François Lafrance’s brand will quickly perceive the turn in the latest production of the image cruncher. The one who has often chosen the Estrie landscapes as inspiration, as well as the cloudy skies (for the variety of contrasts they offer), can now be captured by urban places, especially those of Montreal. And while the weather was a key factor in his decision to freeze time on clichés, the photographer is more and more surprised to go on an excursion without putting the nose out beforehand.
In fact, of the six works selected by the Sherbrookois to appear in the new exhibition of Parcours Photo Sherbrooke, four give predominance to bitumen, concrete, metal or brick. All represent places frequented by the human, but deserted by them at the moment when François Lafrance pressed the button. In his case, the theme of the exhibition Our world: its environment could therefore be enhanced by the words “… when we are not here”.

“These are all places that can be filled. I do not know why, the disused places exert a power of attraction near the people … and especially the photographers! Is it for a reason of state of mind? A connection to childhood? The lunar side? An unannounced end of the world appearance? I am not a psychoanalyst, but they are both peaceful and strange places. A strangeness that piques curiosity, “he says, showing Limitrophe , a work done just at the foot of the famous silo No. 5 of the Old Port of Montreal.

“A few dozen meters away is Old Montreal, where there is a crowd, but in this particular place, nobody. It is perceived that there was an attempt to attract people, a sculpture of Roussil is a few meters away (it is also opposite that of Calder on St. Helen’s Island), but nobody comes He observes, noting that in his campaign shots he was also photographing empty places.

Travel and destination

The new selection of François Lafrance is recent. He has drawn mainly from his corpus of the last two years, with the objective of generating a purpose from a sequence of images chosen, even if the six deductions were taken independently of each other.

Besides the absence of human beings (except two people in the distance, partly hidden by the mist, at the end of a platform), we can also observe that the immortalized scenes are “without destination”: a bridge stopping in the middle of a swamp, a boardwalk facing the river, a staircase and a highway ramp touching the sky …

“But our paths,” he objects, “are often as interesting as the point of arrival. Someone sent me a sentence (I forget the author) that I really liked: “The trip became the destination.” ”

Another important element in the pupil of François Lafrance: the geometric lines. For example Escale , in which the cracks in the asphalt have been camouflaged with bitumen. “As if everything had been tied up, put together, beautifully. In Esquives , I like non-figurative geometry, “he adds, showing the diagonal separating the green from the embankment and the blue of the sky.

Without surveillance cameras

For François Lafrance, the transition from rural to urban has occurred naturally: his spouse lives in Montreal and is as fond of photography as he is. Their weekends often take the appearance of long marches in tandem, in search of particular or incongruous scenes. Their passion was also felt in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie, when they participated in the Rencontres International de la Photographie de Gaspé.

“My blonde Isabelle is so enthusiastic that we find ourselves in places where I’m not always sure that our presence is allowed. I sometimes check to see if there are surveillance cameras, he says with a laugh. But there is a lot of instinct in photography, he recalls, especially during a roadtrip . We do not know at all what will emerge. ”

“It’s a new playground for me, which I discover in a wonderful fluidity,” he continues. I’m in the process of moving to something else, to the question of the subject in photography, which, I realize, is an extraordinary social media to bring ideas and people thinking, and I’m just beginning to touch on these promises. -the. Moreover, when there are people around who see you take a picture, they are interested in your subject and the dialogue is engaged. “

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