Laurent Millet. Somnium

3 Mar — 29 Apr 2017 at the Catherine Edelman in Chicago, United States

6 APRIL 2017
Laurent Millet. Somnium. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman
Laurent Millet. Somnium. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman

There is a rich history of artists constructing environments simply to be photographed and then disassembled. These created realities were prevalent in the 1980s, as works by Sandy Skoglund, Bernard Faucon, Bruce Charlesworth, James Welling and other artists burst onto the scene. All of these artists worked with objects to create a narrative, captured by the camera. Laurent Millet (b. 1968 France) continues to work in this tradition, using various 19th c. printing techniques to magnify his vision.

As he stated in a 2014 interview in L'Oeil de la Photographie: “I felt like I had to take refuge in something that was comforting and reassuring… This idea brought me back to what I did as a child in the countryside when I would play with wood and stones. I rediscovered that pleasure as an adult... Starting with the first things I built, fishing machines, I felt like a world was opening up in which I could really exist. These objects are powered by my personal fictions, my dream of another life. The photograph is proof of that, a record of the moment, a reward.”

For more than twenty years, Laurent Millet has channeled his innate curiosity to create photographs that question the way objects appear within space and time. Citing R. Buckminster Fuller and Denis Diderot among his influences, Millet creates an artistic vocabulary through metal wire, vineyard posts and barrel hoops – objects prevalent in the coastal town of France in which he resides. His 1997 series, Petites Machines Littorales, addressed his surroundings, as he transformed the sea into a place for scientific experimentation, creating contraptions that suggest a way to measure water or listen to fish. These “machines” invite curiosity and questions, much like a child experimenting in a science lab. In his 2000 series Les Cabanes, Millet continues to build structures in the water, yet this time they appear to be bridges, ladders, architectural pieces and fences, suggesting a relationship between water and sky. The 2002 series, La Chasse, features objects that could be used to trap, to capture that which is hard to contain.And finally, in the 2014/15 series, Somnium, the artist photographed himself with geometric objects, polyhedra, that he fabricated. These images seem paranormal yet familiar, as the artist engages with objects hovering in the air, recording his encounter.

His work can be seen in numerous publications including his 2014 book, Les Enfantillages Pittoresques (Filigranes Editions) and in major museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Fonds National d'art Contemporain (Paris), among others.