Photographer of the Week #136: Anais Boileau

Anaïs Boileau is a French photographer interested in documenting the aesthetic and attitudinal relationship between people and place.  Her portraits contain a self-professed inquisitive, voyeuristic quality which is well represented by the playful visual comparisons drawn in her recent project «Plein Soleil,» pictured here.  The series is a subtly surrealist reminder of how manmade architecture and atmosphere continue to both reflect and influence or even alter the appearance and mindset of their human inhabitants.

In «Plein Soleil,» the artist examines a community of female sunbathers in conversation with the equally sun-kissed buildings surrounding the beaches they frequent.  Her work is gently satirical in the equivalency it draws between the pictured gathering of pleasantly complacent women luxuriating in “happy idleness” to the serenity of literally nonsentient structures.

While there is something simple and satisfying in seeing someone succumb to vapidity in the passive process of getting a tan, Boileau concedes, “there is a dimension of artificiality and something false.”  Indeed, there is a certain alienating disconnect in viewing these women at such intimate range while obscured by their sun accessories and expressionless in the process of transforming their appearances.  Naturally, there is something equally uncomfortable in comparing a woman to an inanimate object praised solely for its appearance and inhabitability.  What is striking, however, is the sense that in their momentary lassitude, the lives of the subjects seem temporarily suspended in the pursuit of better assimilating with their setting and that, at least while on the beach with a simple task at hand, they seem as untroubled and immoveable as the stones of the colorful seaside châteaux surrounding them.