Review by Wayne Swanson •
Ah, summer at the sea shore. Endless beaches and bronzing bodies in the sand. Resort hotels and cocktails with little umbrellas in them. Tourists everywhere, reveling in their escape from the day-to-day.
Now consider off-season. Beaches and resort hotels empty, streets deserted, tourists banished to their day-to-day. Photographer Fabien Fourcaud explores this empty landscape in his monograph Off season. Fourcaud grew up in the south of France and fondly remembers his summers at the seashore. Yet returning in off-season evoked a different set of emotions.
Off season opens with his short three-paragraph introduction, which obliquely sets the context. He notes that when returning to a familiar place, searching for memories in a new time, “one finds oneself in torpor, in the expectation of what will never ever be again.”
It is followed by 72 color images surveying French beach resort towns after all the tourists have gone home. They present an eerie, almost post-apocalyptic landscape where only the structures remain, pristine in their emptiness. Captured are the shuttered refreshment stands and buildings and the deserted streets and parking lots. Beaches are vast expanses of sand with just a few stragglers — the only humans in the book — walking in the distance. The images are rich in detail, with a look that is slightly washed out, like a day at the beach.
They are well-reproduced on matte coated art paper, one to a page. Most are 6 inches square, with some stretching across the gutter to a size of 12 inches square. Fourcaud uses lines, shapes, and forms, as well as the gentle pastels and shades of white in the landscape, to play images off one another, creating a rhythm that takes you through the book. Emptiness is the common denominator. Yet the bright light and gentle colors retain an air of hopefulness, pointing to a return to life once summer returns.
Fourcaud’s minimalist compositions are informed by the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore, and the New Topographics movement. His personal vision is built on humanity’s relationship with territory and landscape, and on the concept of presence vs. absence. The result is a collection of objective images with a rich underpinning of subjective meanings.
Off season, Fabien Fourcaud
Photographer: Fabien Fourcaud, born Agen, France, resides Paris, France
Publisher: Bromide Publishing House Limited (Hong Kong, China, copyright 2017)
Introduction: Fabien Fourcaud
Text: French, Japanese, English
Hardcover book, cloth cover with foil stamping on front, back and spine, sewn binding, four-color lithography, 11 x 6 inches, 112 pages, printed in China
First edition of 500 individually numbered copies
Photobook designer: 13BD05726
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