There is something timeless in the aesthetics of Yannick Fornacciari’s portraits.
The melancholy that emerges from it seems to come from another era, but the look and the subjects covered are sublimely modern.
In two days time, a Montreal exhibition dedicated to his series Heroin Days, an intimate and visual diary of his own addiction, begins.
We asked him questions about his love for film, his vision of social commitment in art, and many other things….
Can you tell us about your discovery of photography?
I discovered photography by accident as a teenager. My grandfather gave me the old camera that belonged to my father when he was young.
It was an old Mamiya, a mechanical device that I think was quite common at the time. He taught me the basics, and I started playing with it. In the years that followed, I photographed a lot of my friends, my environment.
It allowed me to understand the basics of light, the different sensitivities, the shots etc.
” […] I also like the social aspect of the portrait, the fact that when you photograph someone, there is a whole context that comes with it.”
Then, as I got older, I discovered the work of some photographers: Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Mapplethorpe and Peter Hujar. And I think it was when I saw their work that I decided to become a photographer too.
Why did you turn to portrait photography?
I think it’s because the first photos that marked me in my youth are portraits. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of a face.
I remember that when I was a teenager, when I was looking at Avedon’s work, for example, or Diane Arbus too, I was really impressed.
And I also like the social aspect of the portrait, the fact that when you photograph someone, there is a whole context that comes with it. Their social environment, habits, customs…
“For my latest project, Heroin Days, photography played an essential role in my withdrawal.”
Each individual is a reflection of the society in which they live, and that’s why I put portraits in my documentaries and documentaries in my portraits.
I read that you studied psychology. Do your photos help you to “analyze” yourself, or at least to know yourself?
My training in psychology helps me to better “understand” some of the situations I encounter in my work as a photographer, which are very far from me. It helps me to be objective, neutral, like a shrink would…
“I think that the art that comes to me, the one I really like, is always the one who questions. “
Then if we talk about photography as a “therapeutic” object, yes, certainly. For my latest project, Heroin Days, photography played an essential role in my withdrawal. It’s sublimation, actually. All the energy I used to put into drugs and finding them, I tried to transpose it into my photography work.
In your work, you deal beautifully with social issues, you have made portraits of the Femen, the transgender community, your addiction to heroin…
Do you think art should be socially committed?
I think that the art that comes to me, the one I really like, is always the one who questions.
Not necessarily at the political level actually, it can be at a social, personal, or other level. I think it’s important.
“Talking about addiction again seems essential to me, and I think there is so much to say on the subject.”
My thing is documentary, so it’s definitely a field of photography where I consider commitment to be essential.
What are the subjects that are close to your heart and that you would like to photograph in future series?
I would like to continue to do documentaries, which I hope will be even better with time and experience.
I am interested in many topics and keep abreast of current events in order to find inspiration.
“I love photographers who succeed in putting poetry and beauty into harsh social realities. “
Talking about addiction again seems essential to me, and I think there is so much to say on the subject. I would like to make portraits of addicts, tell their stories.
I’m sure you’ve heard it often, but your work reminds me of the works of Mapplethorpe and Nan Goldin.
What are your inspirations?
Yes, Mapplethorpe was one of the first photographers who made me want to start doing portraits. His aestheticism touches perfection for me, and even if I admit to being inspired by his work, I can’t compete with him!
“When a film photo is good, there is no need to improve it. Everything is already there”
Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Herve Guibert are artists who have also inspired me a lot. I love photographers who succeed in putting poetry and beauty into harsh social realities.
They are also artists who taught me to privilege the content rather than the form. That a good picture is first of all the subject you photograph, before the technique you use.
You work mostly with film. What does it add to your practice?
Film is what I learned first. I’ve never separated myself from it because I haven’t been able to find the same quality in digital…
I like the fact that with film, you have to take your time, that the number of photos is limited. Let each one be important. Waiting for the result too, there is a ritual and I like it.
“I’ve been working on a documentary about women who have left the sex industry for a while. “
I think it’s in opposition to our time too. Where everything must go fast, be perfect and unlimited. The silver photo requires patience, involvement and hard work. I don’t even think the touch-up is necessary.
When a film photo is good, there is no need to improve it. Everything is already there
Do you have any projects for 2019 that you can tell us about?
I’ve been working on a documentary about women who have left the sex industry for a while.
I’m still at the project conception stage, and maybe it will be a video project, I don’t know yet. It would be a first for me and I find it really stimulating.