French photographer captures false alarms
Marina Gadonneix's focus on disaster simulators explores the divide between the real and the perceived
There's something wrong about Marina Gadonneix's photography; wrong, because a disaster appears to be taking place, and wrong too, because, the disaster doesn't look wholly real. The passenger plane with smoke billowing from its ceiling in her series Playground Disaster, looks just a little bit like a stage prop. The desk and chair in the burnt-out bedroom of her House That Burns Everyday series is monochrome and jerry built; the car from the same series, is a cartoonish, Anthony Caro-style rendering of a Citroën 2CV.
Gadonneix, a Paris-based photographer who graduated from The French National School of Photography in Arles, likes to shoot emergency service training centres. Her images, taken in house-fire simulators, police schools and research laboratories, are strong and eerie enough to get by without any additional interpretation; yet Gadonneix says she's captured these fake disasters as a way to examine both real and perceived dangers.
"I am interested in the interstice between fiction and reality," Gadonneix says. "They are very rationalised places, where scientists and specialists explore our fantasies or our nightmares." While those who use these facilities professionally recognise their scientific and vocational uses, Gadonneix sees them more as a place to explore more existential considerations.
"How do we set up spaces and situations that threaten us in order to turn them into something we can handle? How do we overcome our fears?" she asks. "Since 9/11, everyone has thought about how is it to be on a hijacked plane, or how is it to be in a burning building. The question is obviously how do you face your own death."
To find out about her deathly fakes, and see more from her series, go to Gadonneix's site. For more challenging, contemporary imagery, please take a look at our photography books, including Vitamin Ph, the definitive book on contemporary photography, featuring 121 international artists.