I was curious to see how a non-French speaking woman from Australia could infiltrate a community like this to truly capture the essence of the village. Could so many perceived cultural and language differences be overcome in a short amount of time for me to become involved? I consciously chose to travel at the end of the summer season to eradicate tourists from the parameters of the project. Often I feel there is a bias when travelling to any town or city as a tourist and my aim was to get beneath that façade as the tourists began leaving and winter began to arrive.
To me, a place is people – therefore there are people throughout my photos. People on the streets carrying out their daily rituals and also portraits within their homes. Within both environments there are close links between them and the spaces they find themselves. The subjects of the portraits are involved in my photographic process compared to the captured moments on the streets where I attempt to capture lifestyle and interaction.
The resulting photographs do more than just offer a pretty picture of ladies in their homes. They reflect a complex society that is rapidly changing, while proudly clinging to their heritage and history of which they are proud. It was important to capture these women within their own environment as this is an extension of them and gives a strong narrative as we gaze beyond the facades and pretensions. In their homes the culture and traditions are exquisite; outside their homes this beautiful culture is reflected by a lifestyle captured in “moments” seen in the street photography images.
The photographs appearing in Facade are timeless and some could easily have been shot many years previously. They are images of ancient buildings constantly broken by human existence. There is always some story behind the initial face that you see. A young hairdresser uses modern appliance within the stone walls of a 17th century building, whilst an elderly woman sits on an antique chair. The buildings seem to allow the residents to sit within their walls but many have been before and, hopefully, many will be there in the future. These are fleeting moments in the history of this ancient town.
The black and white images reflect my interest in how black and white is often perceived to be “truth” more than colour. This is perhaps due to the “realism” of colour on a day to day basis and once “real life” is removed, the audience is left inspecting the image more for content and meaning.
To a photographer from Australia, this contrast and comparison is remarkable. I was drawn in by their stories in a purely visual manner. The camera was the main aparatus to communicate my experiences. It is not about making pretty pictures, it is about telling their stories. Facade aims to break down many preconceived perceptions surrounding the outer self and encourages us to seek a deeper meaning. The challenge is an emotional and intellectual one.
Tourists flock to this high density 17th-century village, Sarlat in France to admire its medieval and Renaissance architecture. However, I was intrigued to learn of what life is like for the residents who do not merely descend for the summer months, but stay through the long winter and call this place home.