Photographers Clark & Pougnaud (HSBC Photography Prize Winners) are known for their bond with the theatre world and passion for the 1920s and 1930s style, a world which initially seems far and away from the Académie du Festival d'Aix’ commission for the HSBC winners to create a CD cover. They answer our questions to shed light on what the collaboration hopes to achieve.
How is classical music a theme that inspires photography?
We listen to music when we’re working alone in the studio.
Classical music suits any mood, it opens the mind and creates very powerful images. All you have to do is close your eyes and you’re whisked away.
In that sense, photography is no different to other forms of expression, especially when you can create the décor and lighting of any set.
You try to “freeze time” in your photographic work; was the idea behind this cover to make the Van Kuijk Quartet timeless?
Timeless, time will tell…We tried to create an atmosphere that relates to the music they perform on the CD without showing it being performed. We used a wide shot so the notes float around them after the performance.
What does this image tell us? Is it the story of a young 21st century quartet?
It’s the story of a young quartet shot after a performance on a late Sunday afternoon in summer in a quiet town. They’re barefoot and wearing shirts.
During framing, they told us the first thing they do after a performance is to put their instruments away before they take their shoes and jackets off. But they had to keep their instruments with them to tell the story. We also really like shooting people barefoot as it makes them look “at home” and creates a connection.
Maybe that’s the 21st century touch…
Freezing time is very often one of the effects that classical music has on its listeners. Do you tend to listen to this musical genre?
Yes, often. We tune the radio to France Musique (there are no ads…) while we work.
Your work with the quartet will also be used to make a video based on the shoot’s shots. What sort of video will it be and what is its objective?
The record company and Aix Festival Academy commissioned us with a teaser lasting around 90 minutes, the idea was to create the model for the CD sleeve.
Is it also a way for you to explore new possibilities in your artistic work?
In the past we explored animated images three or four times following demand from exhibition galleries. All our sets were made of paper or cardboard, there was an almost “logical” continuation that led us to “stop motion”. By giving free rein to our imagination, our fantasies and, in this case, giving ourselves up to music, we enjoy working with animated images as much as stills and the result suits us. We constantly have ideas so we immediately want to try any new suggestions that can be adapted to suit our artistic process (slowness, hand-making, poetry, simplicity).
See the Van Kuijk Quartet in concert on 2 July at the Festival d'Aix for the release of the recording
With the support of