Alexis Pichot’s images of white dunes and craggy rocks don’t belong to this world. They come from an imaginary timeline where the soft, warm hues of twilight blend with the cool, blue light of the moon. Time is broken and folded together. Past, present, and future in a single moment. A duplicative existence untethered from the linear circadian rhythm of the world. Badlands spoke with Alexis to learn more about Séléné.
Looking at your bio, you began your career as an interior designer. What was the moment when you were most inspired to change careers and pursue photography?
My profound desire is to express my emotions. Creativity without depending on a third person. When I discovered I could paint with my own lights during long time exposure shots, it was evident that I wanted to dive more into photography. It is from that statement I created the Revolution Parisienne series — my inner fire.
Your images in Séléné appear both light and dark. Hard to tell if the images were captured in the morning, evening, or the middle of the night. They break the rules of realism and exist in their own imaginary hour. Tell me about the creative intent behind Séléné and its unusual light.
Thank you. I am happy to read that you felt my intended narrative. To be in an imaginary scenery, where the spectator can’t figure out day from the night, the materials that make up these landscapes and feel a loss of scale. A space where it is difficult to cling to known things and let yourself be carried away by the present. My relation with the moon is pretty intense, in that every time I see and think of it, I feel transported to another place…in between the earth and the moon.
What was alluring to you about the rocky, barren landscape featured in Séléné?
More than the material, it is the whiteness of the landscapes that caught my attention. The creative click came true the moment I could see the scene intensified under influence of the full moon.
You wrote that creating these images was a mise en abyme for you. What did you discover or learn about yourself through Séléné?
My personal introspection through photography is the body of my art. My series has been mainly created by an inner movement, inner emotions, inner creativity that brings me to those places. At that time Séléné was (and still is) a safe place where I felt related to something bigger; giving me the confidence to where I was stepping in “Her virginal dress heralds an awareness and a new cycle of life.” When I discovered the place where I created Séléné, I was at the beginning of a new life journey. The moonlight was my guidance on this travel. When I discovered the story of Séléné, the Goddess of the Full Moon, it was like I had found the last piece of the puzzle.
What do you hope a viewer feels or experiences while viewing Séléné?
As for all my works, I am just expressing what I like to do, to be, to experience. Where I am physically and emotionally at that time. With Séléné, I invite the viewer to explore this imaginary place and feel where it brings them. Which parts of their body are reacting, which emotions are arising, and then connect with them and feel.
Light appears to play an important role in all your photography. Many images use artificial light to create a surreal, theatrical atmosphere. What inspires you to mix natural and artificial light this way?
At night, everything is more intimate, subtle, fragile and sensitive. My nocturnal excursions allow me to establish a strong connection with the elements that surround me. The expression of these sensations passes through meticulous work on the light. Light and space are my sources of inspiration, experimentation, and confrontation. But above all, fulfillment. I pierce the night using physical movement, as well as using light in order to see beyond what is visible. To a place where the blackness has not yet absorbed everything.
I also give pride of place to the use of long exposures. There is magic in discovering what the sensitive sensor perceives. It’s like a surprise, a gift for the eyes. The chance to physically intervene with my lights while shooting and play a new composition. Being both behind and in front of the camera, is also part of the magic!
Alexis Pichot — Séléné