Guillaume Greff - Dead Cities

Kaiserin Editions, 2013

 

Dead Cities is the recent, interesting publication by the french author Guillaume Greff. Elegantly designed and printed, in a limited edition of 500 copies, the small two books documenting the architecture of Jeoffrécourt, an artificial town of 5,000 imaginary inhabitants in Northern France. The first book contains the images documenting factories, houses, churches, mosques ending with “The Neutralized City”, an accurate text by Jean-Christophe Bailly. The second libretto offers the conceptual references, the historical and topographical study.

 

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

 

“Neutralize” is a word regularly used to describe the action of armed forces overcoming their adversary in a conflict. Yet this action – whether in an actual war or in the context of some form of repression – can occur anywhere: its very principle involves a polymorphous and changing theatre of operations, unlimited both de jure and de facto. However, the idea emerged that this theatre had recurring forms and that there therefore must be a kind of ideal scene of neutralization and of the exercise of force. It ensues that one could build, for training purposes, a spatial model able to effectively reproduce the setting or the décor of the most frequently conducted actions. While the countryside and undeveloped areas used to – for the most part – do the job, the omnipresence of urban reality (including in modern-day conflict) has led to the creation of cities or fragments of cities that are like life-size models of the theatre of operations: the ideal city, one may say, from the perspective of the police or the army.

Jean-Christophe Bailly, “The neutralized city” in Guillaume Greff, Dead Cities, (Volume I, Jeoffrécourt, pp.62-63) Paris, KAISERIN EDITIONS, 2013.

 

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

 

INTERVIEW

GACould you tell us something more about how your project ‘Dead Cities’ started?

GG – In 2010 I’ve discovered a military camp where the French army was in the process of building a city for training in urban combat. An ideal city, but from the point of view of the army and the police. Shortly after I met Jean-Christophe Bailly, who was interested by the project. He wanted to write something about it. At the same time Kaiserin Edition decided to launch into book publishing. I had worked with Arnaud-Pierre Fourtané and Didier Fitan a few years ago for a work i made in Vaduz. I’ve always been very sensitive to their graphic proposal and aesthetic line. We quickly agreed on the form. A tome for photographs and another tome for my iconographic research.

GAHow do you wish your images to be experienced, as a narrative or something more ambiguous and thematic?

GG – An image can be view differently depending on the context in which it is presented. My images have a documentation tool and I can’t force people to see them differently. Even if I think it’s a pitty to stay in this first reading.

 

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

 

GADid you start the project with the idea of making a book?

GG – First I made ​​a photograph then two then three… At the end I had more than sixty views. It is difficult to produce an exhibition with so many pictures. And i think it’s also very boring to watch it. It was at this time that the idea of ​​the book came. You can open a book and read it like if you were at an exhibition. You can also open your book, take a look at one or two pictures and then, close your book and doing something else.

GACould you tell me about the photographers whose work has made a special impression on you?

GG – I come from the landscape and my references are essentially part of this vein. I was and I remain marked by the work of Gabriele Basilico, Jem Southam, Lewis Baltz, Sophie Ristelhueber or Mark Ruwedel . But my interest is not limited to photography. At the moment i’m very interested by the works of Geert Goiris, by Ralston Crawford’s paintings and Charlotte Posenenske’s sculptures.

 

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

© Dead Cities by Guillaume Greff (Kaiserin Editions, 2013)

 

Guillaume Greff was born in 1977 in Sarreguemines, in Lorraine. He lives and works in Paris and Sarralbe (Moselle). After his Master’s degree in Fine Arts in 2005, he pursued his research on landscapes and architectural shapes. In 2011, the Centre national des arts plastiques granted him a fellowship for “contemporary documentary photographic creation”, for his Dead Cities project. In 2012, he received the cross-border grant Regards sans limites (Limitless Gazes) for a project on the Rhine.

Published by Kaiserin Editions, 2013
Hardcover, 160 x 220 mm
2 Volumes | 76 + 44 pages. Images 24 color + 34 b/w

ISBN 978-2-9539867-2-3
Text: Jean-Christophe Bailly

Graphic design: Kaiserin Studio
French, German and English

 

www.guillaumegreff.com

Curated by Gianpaolo Arena