Bastien Brillard and Élise Toïdé, our readers picks #354, express what they feel through their pictures. One adresses a passionate love letter to the Reunion Island, while the other explores teenage reverie in the middle of summer.

Bastien Brillard

It was during a long journey that Bastien Brillard, a former geography student, fell under the spell of the photographic medium. In 2006, he moved to the Reunion Island, where he shot his first subjects, helped by other photographers from the region. “We tried to produce images that were different from the dominant vision of tropical folklore”, he says. Inspired by his studies, he explores, through pictures, the relationships between the people and their living environment. “Then, in 2014, I decided to cross the mirror of exclusion: to focus no longer on the suffering of loneliness, but on a voluntary one”, he adds. A theme that pushes him to document a romantic vision of coming together, organised to create an alternative utopia, in the face of contemporary issues. But Entre toi et moi (Between You and Me) reads like a more personal work. A statement to the Reunion. “I’ve been seeing her since 1999, after eight years together, I couldn’t leave without leaving a note”, he laughs. In black and white, Bastien Brillard captures the emotion, the strong sensations of fusing with a territory. “A story oscillating between eternal love and visceral hatred. Inexplicable. And, as what we love too much can end up destroying us, I left her! To leave to find myself. To leave to move on and breathe. To leave to remember. To leave to be and to love. To leave to be afraid and to feel alive. Leaving is also a wrench, a renunciation. Leaving vulnerable and fragile, but leaving all the same. Leaving”, he confides. A timeless project as intimate as it is universal.

© Bastien Brillard

Élise Toïdé

“My work is intuitive. When I make a portrait, or a story about a person, I like to walk with them. Getting to know them, photographing them naturally, in a place that suits us. I like to let things come to me”, says Élise Toïdé. Now living in Montreuil, the artist grew up in the South of France and lived in Brooklyn – whose unique atmosphere and streets inspired her to start photography. Shooting with film, she approaches, through her images, “the notions of memory, intimacy, and passage –particularly around adolescence and travel. The memory of places, of childhood, the imprint of reinvented memories, subject to interpretation. I look for links between visible and interior worlds. My images must remain like ghosts, impressions, sensations”, she tells us. Made in the middle of summer, the series Saison Sèche (Dry Season) is a search for metamorphosis, for vulnerability. “It’s a story about a teenager, which takes place during the summer holidays, when time is stretched out. I tried to transcribe youth’s particular relationship to time, that of boredom, of absence. Suspended moments, floating moments”, adds the photographer. And in this light, languorous universe, we seem to perceive the slowly disappearing summer heat…

© Elise Toidé

Image d’ouverture : © Bastien Brillard