We are really excited to announce that photographer Raoul Ries has joined the MAP6 collective!. Below is a brief interview where he discuses his photographic practice, his latest project and his motivations for joining MAP6.
Can you tell us a little about your journey in photography - from your early inspirations to how you work today?
In the early 2000s I worked long hours and I didn't even get to see my neighbourhood during the day, so I started to take photos around my house at night. After a workshop with Jean-Claude Belegou in 2009, followed by others, I was hooked. In 2011 I decided to quit my job to study photography and then kept going until now. I’m still not bored.
What motivates and drives your current photographic practice?
Starting from my own neighbourhood and social environment, I want to see what makes a space into what it appears to be. How can the forces that shape a habitat be photographed, what part of the story do I actually want to show? When working on a series, I usually research different aspects of the topic, then focus on one of them. That way if the pictures don’t work out at least I learned something.
Talk to us a little about your most recent project 'New Towns'.
In 2016 I discovered the Harlow Art and Sculpture Trail. I am interested in how artworks interact with a living environment as opposed to a white wall gallery space, and decided to take pictures in Harlow. My initial goal was to show the local desire to create a nicer living space. I became curious about where I actually was so I read about the history of the New Towns and the Garden Cities and decided to photograph all of the first wave New Towns around London. They began to be built in 1946 and over seven decades the economic climate fluctuated, political ideas changed and new social aspirations superseded the dreams of the previous generations. The contemporary New Towns show evidence of previous building styles and ideas of community. They preserve some of their initial character but their identity is shifting in favour of more national and international elements. I began visiting these places in 2018 until recently. Now that I have finished editing and sequencing the resulting images I will make a dummy catalogue and approach places which might want to show them. I'd like them to be seen in one of the New Towns.
You have published a book about Mt Fuji, can you tell us about the project and the process of making the book?
Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji shares elements with photography, they show moments in normal life, but hint at different timescales. For me they deal with the question on what we do with our lives. I wanted to produce photographs inspired both in subject matter and in graphic design by Hokusai’s woodcuts. As different seasons were required I visited Japan twice for two to three months at a time where I cycled around the mountain in various distances. The series is sequenced to show the repeat change of season and the age of the people within. A grant from the Centre National de Audiovisuel in Luxembourg helped to finance the book publishing. Yes, I had to pay to get it into the shops and no, I won’t see any profit. There is a link on my website so if you want a copy buy it from me!
If you could work collaboratively with one photographer - living or dead - who would it be and why?
While there are many photographers I’d like to have a coffee with and chat about their process, progress and life in general, I think I need to be alone to take photographs. The collaborative bit comes into play before and after, first whilst coming up with the initial idea and later during the editing of the collected material. I’d quite like to go on tour with Elliott Erwitt though, he could do dogs and I’d do cats.
What excites you about MAP6 and collaborating with other photographers?
Two things actually. MAP6’s objectives seem to be closely related to mine, and the group members are serious and work hard on their projects, whilst at the same time are playful and experimental. I am looking forward to discovering how people develop a photographic project from their point of view, using insights, feelings and techniques that are different from mine or even inaccessible to me. Last year I walked Hadrian’s Wall with a friend, we took very dissimilar pictures and had a mini-show together. I enjoyed that and now I am looking forward to doing this with a larger group of people.