01 Jul 2008
31 Dec 2008

MICHEL SÉMÉNIAKO, LETTRES D'AMOUR DES MOUCHES À FEU

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Cour de la ferme

Michel Séméniako is a great traveller. His many published works reveal how passionately he loves Africa, Asia (China, India, Indonesia, Japan…), Europe, and of course France. But the most lasting impression is of a series of landscapes, each more unreal than the last. These are dreamscapes, amazing, almost idyllic visions of a world that he knows in his heart of hearts to be movingly dark. Michel Séméniako sheds light on the world as though he were showing us the world of his own imagination.
Since his visit to Auschwitz, Séméniako no longer takes black and white photographs, refusing any redundancy between subject and medium. For over 20 years he has been capturing industrial memorial sites, those landscapes that bear witness to the changing face of the global economy. However, he uses neither the crude hues of angry, accusing realism nor the faded colours of a world gone by. By offsetting the object from its generally accepted perception, he subtly shows us how visual images have two languages, at once manipulative and laudatory. By deconstructing the usual conventions of light and colour, Séméniako reveals what we have been unable –or unwilling – to see with our own eyes.
Like some wild, determined night bird, he flees the big cities and their shimmering magic, searching for the very essence of shape and form, hidden away from the common, often expected, perception. "Love letters from fireflies", the series of photographs which he presents at Chaumont-sur-Loire, is a moment of pure poetry that takes us far from the noise and the fury.

Taken in the Piedmonte region of Italy, with the help of an entomologist, these images focus on the infinitely fragile and lovingly caress the invisible. The luminous signals which the fireflies produce as they search for a mate are infinitesimal, practically undetectable. They can only be perceived with the humility needed to HEAR these letters of love.


Biographical landmarks

Michel Séméniako was born in Annecy, France, in 1944. After studying sociology he turned to photography. He has been awarded the Nadar and Villa Médicis Hors les Murs prizes. A former teacher, he has published some fifteen works to date, in which his photographs are accompanied by texts by respected authors including Michel Vinaver, Alain Bergala, Paul Ardenne, Jean-Claude Carrière, Anne Cauquelin and Louise L. Lambrichs. Séméniako’s works feature in many private and state-owned collections, both in France and abroad. His collection of photographs of industrial landscapes to the south of the Baie de Somme, with text by Patrice Juiff, was published in spring 2008 by Editions Diaphane.

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