Meet the team: Cécilia Poupon
In the second of our catch-ups with contributors, Alec Dudson finds out what photographer Cécilia Poupon has been up to since Issue One
Having decided to try and get the concept off the ground in January 2013, one of the first hurdles to overcome with Intern was finding contributors. Naturally, convincing the first few perfectly suited young creatives to commit was going to be a tricky task. Cécilia’s work stood out for me, here was a young photographer determined to make the mundane seem magical, she was damn good at it too.
Photography is always an interesting medium for Intern as there is a glass ceiling dividing the aspiring photographer and the professional. Studios, lighting, models, stylists, set designers and assistants all come at a premium and as such, often the photographers we feature work with few, if any of these. I remain convinced that those who can make a lot with a little in this respect, have incredible potential, so it is a delight to catch up with Cécilia and see how her work is evolving.
So Cécilia, I first contacted you about Intern back it was little more than an idea in January of last year. Did you have any reservations at the time?
Well at the very beginning I must say that I was a bit sceptical, but after a few emails had been exchanged, I understood your motivations and at that point felt immediately concerned. I was compelled to participate in the project as the debate was so necessary.
Did you think the project would take the form it did? Did you even believe that it would happen?
I imagined the magazine with less content, although I really don’t know why! So it was a very good surprise when I saw it come together. I was enthusiastic about it being a print magazine also, and yes I believed it would happen. I think it grew bigger and bigger with time and emails full of fresh news. Once the Kickstarter campaign began, I could tell that there was no need to worry as it quickly gathered momentum.
At the time, you were living in a quiet little town in France and that was directly influencing your photography. What can you tell us about life back then and how it manifested itself in your randomness / ennui series?
Life back then was slow I’d say, I had a lot of time and not much to do. Those two years were my first education in photography. I met a great person there, who really introduced me to photography as a language, and it was a big step. I really wanted to make images, I wanted fantasy. So I looked for strange, intriguing things in amongst my boring routine, and even sometimes provoked it or made it all up. It almost became necessary sometimes to construct this world outside of my own and to do so with photography was a real joy. I have to confess, I would have loved it if this town was Twin Peaks, and it really had the feel of it sometimes! I learned so much from this period and through the creative process that I developed.
I suppose one of the biggest things that has happened for you since we began this collaboration together was that you have moved to ECAL (Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne). How has this shaped the sort of work you’re producing?
Before moving to ECAL my photographs were almost a kind of research. I was feeling, living, more than thinking, I still do it nowadays of course, and probably will for a very long time. What’s changed is that I don’t have a lot of time to roam around like before. We have a lot of projects going on simultaneously, so I have to start from an idea, a concept and stick to it, make it happen. I suppose now that the variety of things that I photograph is far larger, but my interests haven’t changed much. I’m still completely drawn to strange feels, I’d say the subject has changed, although I still produce work about things more or less close to me. The technical change is I don’t shoot as much film as I used to, which I miss!
How do you think your work has evolved since 2012/13?
I think my work has become more consistent. I also feel like that work is more accessible. It was really intimate before, I wasn’t thinking of the spectator’s comprehension at all, and for a documentary project like Evian – Lausanne, that is really necessary. I suppose then, it has become more formal in terms of my approach and planning.
What inspired you to undertake the Evian – Laussane project? Also, what about it have you enjoyed, that you perhaps haven’t with other bodies of work?
I wanted the subject to be simple but interesting, a trajectory from A to B. It’s been a real experience, as a French person coming to Switzerland, I was essentially one of these people, and at the same time completely detached from them. I didn’t want to settle into a singular point of view, so I tried to work back and forth between being immersed with my subjects and documenting them. That dichotomy is really quite apparent throughout the series and I think it works well. A funny thing is that I had to pretend to be a tourist to take pictures of tourists, I’m way too shy otherwise. I figured this must be how Martin Parr works!
Can you tell us anything about what you are working on now?
Since January I’ve been working on a little still life series on the theme of “things considered sacred in our daily lives”. I’m also working on a more intimate series about marks and traces, but I don’t want to say too much at this stage as it is still in progress.
I have to ask, have you done any internships since being involved with the magazine?
Nope. I am completely dedicated and religiously devoted to school for the moment.
I’m delighted that Cécilia is this dedicated to mastering her craft and it’s brilliant to see the manner in which her studies at ECAL are helping to refine her work. What’s most satisfying though, is that she still produces images that stop you in your tracks and I’m convinced that she will be doing for a long time to come.
Blessed with both a glorious imagination and the ability to compose truly arresting photographs, this young lady is only just getting started.