The related topics of territory and landscape have been at the centre of my artistic practice for many years. I define territory as a geo-social space that is intrinsic to collective imaginaries and identities. It can be considered as raw material for the landscape, which I define as an infinitely subjective perception of natural or humanized spaces.
I chose the topics of territory and landscape for my research out of a desire to interpret places in a critical and symbolic way.
When I first observe a given territory, I seek to deepen my understanding of the effects generated by the relationship between humans and their environment, an objective I maintain during the whole creative process. The fundamental issue of the natural environment—its fragility and its preservation—is at the core of this approach. I examine geographical, ideological, and identity processes, as they are conjunctively implicated in the development of the territory and its determination.
For instance, in my latest research, I am looking at tensions caused inherently by territorial development, such as the ceaseless extension of suburban spaces (including the broadening of the suburbs and of commercial zones in the periphery of cities), the narrowing borders between industrial and agricultural zones, the insertion of heavy industries within natural or rural zones, and the alteration to natural spaces, among others. These multiple realities are being increasingly juxtaposed and overlapped, creating a geographical and social cohabitation that is often destabilizing.
Conceptually, I aim to observe places from an empirical perspective, and to analyze and understand the specific character of the different spaces travelled. I additionally question the way in which these spaces are built socially. Creatively, I seek to translate and explain the complexity, the heterogeneity, the multiplicity, and the uniqueness of these territories that anchor humans to their environment, and an individual to his or her society.
The creative process
I gather the inspiration for my research in the different territories travelled while walking, biking, driving, or even flying. I might simply have crossed through these spaces, which become subjects of my reflection, but I usually prefer to wander and observe slowly, taking the time to follow different scales of perspectives. Those spaces represent an ideal context to collect visual documentation (photography, video, sketching), and are perfectly suited to moments of inspiration and reflection, which are essential to my artistic practice.
The visual documentation is the raw material used for the conceptualization and the creation of my works. I frequently depict the territories travelled by superposing linear drawings that I generate through digital manipulations of the material I captured in the field. Generating drawings through image-manipulation software answers a need for objectivity that can be related to cartographic editing. The drawings are, however, usually realized by hand in order to distinguish them, and to transcend the programmatic character inherent to digital material, although nothing prevents resonances to linger.
While the linear approach remains a favourite in my research, the means of execution of the drawings constantly varies in order to answer specific artistic or conceptual intentions. This may imply associating different graphic styles and/or deviating from their traditional use, which allows me to modulate, refine, or even symbolize the depiction of territories. There are therefore many types of drawing in my works, such as realistic, technical, topographical, signaletic, and so on, to which I may add geographical codes, and perspective and graphical grids. In all cases, drawing remains the preferred means of expression, as its permeability allows me to go past the compartmentalization of disciplines, thus offering me vast research possibilities.
In my works, many pictorial and graphic properties become intimately tied. The space of the representation is built through a complex relationship involving drawing, and photographic or digital reminiscences, aiming ultimately towards a critical and symbolic interpretation of territories.
Transl. Lysiane Boulva