Elisabeth Gomes Barradas and Sophie Churlaud, our readers picks #351, may be opposed in many ways, but both obsess over aesthetics. The former finds inspiration in RnB music to create portraits straight out of the 2000s, while the latter strives to collect all the geometric details of the city of Naples.
Usher, Aaliyah, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey… All of them are the crème de la crème of the 2000s. As the main source of inspiration for photographer Elisabeth Gomes Barradas, the turn of the millennium RnB music is elevated in her Covers series – showbizz, blingbling, glitter and ghetto fabulous. “Whether it’s copying their clothing, their hairstyle, or learning choreographies and lyrics by heart, in our blocks of flats in the Hauts-de-Seine, we secretly dreamed of being like these people”, she recounts. A fantasy that turned into a performance for the young artist, who used photographic staging as a way to fulfil her greatest dreams. During her photoshoots, she has a playlist from that era at the ready to better embody these stars. Because “cover” is both the front page of the magazines she collected as a teenager and a cover of a beloved song – a way of putting herself in the spotlight and impersonating her idols. “I see my photographs as historical paintings of fantasised personalities. I like to imagine an atmosphere, a vibe for my photoshoots and let myself be surprised” she tells us. In her images, RnB is proudly displayed as the standard for the social ascension of black people in the artistic world, in a kitschy, yet fabulous way.
Covers © Elisabeth Gomes Barradas
In 2018, after seven months spent in Quebec, her heart broken by a failed love affair and an endless winter, French photographer Sophie Churlaud went to Naples. “I had three days, all alone, with the city as my playground. I was immediately attracted by the colours, the warmth and the life of this seaside city – in comparison with the aseptic, cold and grey life of Montreal at this time of year”, she recalls. Following her instinct, and with her camera in hand, the artist frantically photographed the details of this bustling city. “I wandered around the city looking for something, without knowing what it was – I ended up focusing on the textures in close-up. It was only during the editing phase that the series found its meaning and that the images came together”, she continues. Sophie Churlaud then discovered a remarkable harmony. Gathered together in diptychs, her shots are punctuated by colours and lines. The result is Voir Naples et puis mourir (See Naples and then die, ed.), a striking series, displaying the radiant colours of the Italian city.
Voir Naples et puis mourir © Sophie Churlaud
Cover picture: © Elisabeth Gomes Barradas