[Interview] Esther Genicot – Photographer

Starting next Sunday and during two months, the Belgian photographer Esther Genicot will be exhibiting some shots from her collection Axis Mundi at the Cercle des Voyageurs. The opportunity for us to interview her and discover more about her universe!

But before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s have a few words about the photographer and the exhibition. Esther Genicot is a young artist born in Brussels in 1991 who slides between identities and stays away from pre-established paths. In her work, she connects three universes that inspire her: the Art world (dance, photography, cinema, theater and music), the Senses (through the touch or the mind), and Nature (sea, plants, sky and travels).

The exhibition takes place from the 2nd of April until the 30th of May. The opening of the exhibition starts at 18:30 and will welcome two performances to set the mood. A band will play acoustic music at the beginning of the event, and, two hours later, the dancer Cassiel Gaube will perform. Esther Genicot will also be at the Cercle des Voyageurs to answer all your questions!

If you want to have a look at her works, do not hesitate to come by! You can find more information about the exhibition on the Cercle des Voyageurs‘ website.

Without further ado, discover Esther Genicot’s interview!

What does photography mean to you?

This question is really broad! I could write and dream for a long time thinking about it. But if I had to get straight to the point, I would say that being a photographer is, in my view, a double movement: escaping from the ordinary to explore the eternity.

How did you get into the photo industry?

I would say that if I felt the need to become a photographer and if I still feel it today, it is only to escape. From what? From the reality that sometimes stifles me, crushes me and exhausts me. When I start capturing life, it is as if I was changing the forces in play: I breathe, I gloat, I meet life. Therefore, if I am trying to escape from the present, it is only to better catch the moment. For this escape to be effective, it is necessary for me to play, because sensitivity and intuition are the preconditions for all my creations!

What is more, I have always been fascinated by photography, and, particularly, personal pictures and archive film footage, because it makes me feel like I could reach eternity. When I find one of those old pictures, it is as if I captured the memory of a moment and accessed an invisible phenomenon that is already fading away: life, our lives. And it captivates and dazzles me (again and again)!

Where does your inspiration come from? Any artist or specific work you particularly cherish?

Where do I find my enthusiasm? Well, my answer is going to be quite common! (but fundamental). In love (desire, fascination, admiration, beauty), joy (the much talked about escape!), travels (nature, water, light), and mystery.

An artist? A work? Well… It comes in waves; it’s always changing, moving around me.  (I close my eyes and try to think of something because I am far from being a photophile). Oh yes! I would say the works of the American and Italian photographers Ryan Mcginley and Silvia Grav. One of the things I like and that influences me – particularly when it comes to their respective approach – is the fact that they experiment! I mean, they have fun using and overusing photo retouching, colors and materials. In doing so, they connect me with life in all its sensoriality, its intensity, its eternity and… its frivolity. I am touched by their pictures because I can recognize myself in the audacious sensibility that makes them up. Their audacity lights me up and makes me want to venture out of my comfort zone!

Silvia Grav

Ryan Mcginley

Could you tell us about your previous exhibitions? What did you draw from your experience?

Before 2015, I was involved in projects where my opinion was not really considered (competitions, collaborations, etc.). But everything changed in 2015 when Erika Meda (a good friend of mine and producer) encouraged me to become a Roue Libre (In French, Roue Libre is the name of her House/Company/production Workshop). In other words, she urged me to “take photography seriously”. Her support really stimulated me and allowed me to embark on a photographical journey at L’Air Libre (a beautiful library right by the Place Flagey). There, I exhibited ten photographs from Axis Mundi, my current work. This was the first experience, where, from start to finish, I built everything.

Then, as you know, I took off with Airplane Mode. And soon (from the 2nd of April), I will continue my journey with the Cercle des Voyageurs. (It is silly but, in my view, all those names are far from being trivial. They echo in their own way with my work).

What did I draw from my exhibition at L’air Libre? A lot of anxiety and love! The endless intern battle between the “who do you think you are?” and … “tadam, here are a few things that I made with passion”. Then… I eventually struck a balance.

What about your experience with Airplane Mode?

It was a strong experience! This event shook up a lot of things in my life from an artistic and personal point of view.

As a self-taught artist, this collaboration with Airplane Mode was a milestone. Why? Because I was particularly well surrounded with two really committed art historians, Sarah Marcel and Charlotte Sohie. From beginning to end, they supported me, helped me, gave me advice, while allowing me to have “the last word”. After the freedom of independence, I discovered there the pleasure of being able to cooperate –  it gives you a feeling of serenity.

From my personal point of view, one of the works (which was not mine, as it happens, but Maud Neve’s Nul trace dans le courant où j’ai nagé avec une femme), created and exhibited at Airplane Mode’s Take Off, allowed me to let emotions that I held back for a long time. This photograph was particularly intriguing:  it showed emotions, feelings, passions that are processed in our subconscious. She made imperceptibly perceptible the imperceptible.

How would you define the collage technique? How important is it to your work?

Once again, this question allows me to speak further about what I was saying earlier. Well, I keep on superimposing photographs, because it makes it possible for me to play with fate and with my subconscious. When I create something, I rarely think ahead about the outcome. In contrast, if I have desires and intuitions, I am fascinated by what I discover click after click. It is probably childish to work like that. But that’s how I work. Why? Because I am fascinated by what fate can offer or “reveal” to me. While superimposing one picture onto another, it is as if I saw the conscious, subconscious and unconscious coming to life at the same time. “Mystère Esther”.

« Axis Mundi, c’est nous. Corps, nombril ou point de connexion entre ciel et terre où les quatre directions de la boussole se rencontrent »