25 Aug
Denis Darzacq's HYPER photo project

The French photographer Denis Darzaq created a photo series called Hyper which captures his subjects frozen in mid air, motionless and preserved, always in supermarkets. Needless to say this resonated with us. The name refers to Hypermarkets, which is how the French call supermarkets, and the appeal of the environment is the same that inspired Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, and, well, us. Winner of the prestigious World Press Photo Award, Darzaq talents are unquestioned — but we did want to find out the inspiration for his work. If you like what you see, read the Q&A interview below…

First off, where are you from Denis? Tell me a bit about your background.
I born in Paris in 61, went to “Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs” for 5 years studying video Art, degreed in 86.

So what was the inspiration for the HYPER series? What were you trying to convey?
Hyper series was taken after “La Chute” series (the Fall). It’s almost the same idea, in a metaphoric sense: Trying to find the balance in our materialistic world. Specifically when you are young and the only way to exist now is to have instead of being.

Do you remember the moment the inspiration struck?
Yes I was making photos of young Algerian dancers in Alger doing rehearsals for show tour in France. It was in 2003, the first Gulf war, and they were practicing Hip-Hop (the sign of American culture in Maghreb) with such an energy and desire! Suddenly I recognized: body language is the language of the youth.

Hit the Jump to continue reading the interview, plus one more gallery and a 7-minute documentary showing Darzaq working with street dancers in the suburbs of Paris…

“Trying to find the balance in our materialistic world, specifically when you are young and the only way to exist now is to have instead of being…”

Would you elaborate a bit on that? In other words, how did you transition from watching the motion and movement of these hip hop dancers into wanting to capture people falling, or mid-jumping?
When they were dancing, some time they were able to leave the ground. At that moment appear the fact I could freeze the movement in the air. Metaphorically, questioning the individual place of the youth in our society.

One interpretation of the HYPER series said: “It’s as if the subject has suddenly just had too much of daily life: like the overwhelmingly mundane task of buying another carton of milk is the the last straw and so their spirit has literally freed their bodies from the Earth.” Is this at all accurate?
I let everybody have his own interpretation.

Tell me about the new update of Hyper you did this year, HYPER 2010. How is it different from the original photo series? And how is the background (the colored rows) relevant to the theme?
I will say new Hypers are more introspective in opposition of the first one, which were more influenced by Baroque painting. In front of roll of carpets, it’s reminds me of the cashier treadmill along with exploration into the painting…

I’m sorry, a “cashier treadmill”?
The body is like a product on a treadmill. But the carpets remind me also of abstract painting like Rothko, something more contemplative.

Darzaq’s HYPER 2010

Technically how was it done — did you just have the subjects jump, and photograph them with a really fast shutterspeed? If so, how did they not hurt themselves when landing?
Yes, just some bruises, that’s it.

Was it integral that the series took place inside a Supermarket? Could it have been photographed anywhere else?
All of them had been made in supermarket, this the name of the series! Hyper, even the last images, in front of carpet rolls.

What is it about Supermarkets that interests you?
It’s the quintessence of our world.

Who are your design and/or art heroes?
Many, but I appreciate Man Ray, André Kertesz. And all the surrealistic period.

What was your favorite work of art as a child?
Little Nemo, the comics, and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, the most beautiful movie of the world by Jacques Demy. Un film enchanté.

What’s the most interesting example of design work you’ve seen over the last year?
The new supermarket near Clermont-Ferrand in France for Leclerc company. Concept by Michel Buchard.

Damn, you really do like Supermarkets! So what’s next for you?
I will work with persons with learning disability.

Will this involve your art in any way, or is this a departure from the art world?
It’s completely an artistic project: Visibility for minorities. Concerning our old democracies in Europe. The citizen’s statue. In the 50’s it was the question of the place for the women in our society, in the 60’s it was the time to question the place for sexual minorities, in the 80’s it was the time to question  the place for “racial” minorities, now it’s time for physical and intellectual minorities.

WE ARE ALL CITIZENS. This is what our civilization has to say to the rest of the world.

Lastly, if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you in?
OUT SIDE!!!!!!!! Where the real life is.

Below: a 7-minute documentary showing Darzaq working with street dancers in the suburbs of Paris…

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