A Perpetual Season collects a sequence of fragments of an unknown urban environment and creates a stylised modernist version of the human habitat. Gregoire Pujade-Lauraine photographed a series of abstract forms, architectural fragments, geometrical impressions and, once in a while, a solitary person, a couple of people or some seemingly lost greenery invading the lifeless spaces. On first impression, A Perpetual Season seems to be an homage to the elements of urban architecture, with their illusory permanence counteracted by the transience revealed by signs of decay. On a deeper examination, however, the book tells a poetic story of modern man and the philosophical role of life in a modern urban landscape.
Pujade-Lauraine's images are filled by their architectural subjects: the buildings extend beyond the image's frame, putting the viewer constantly up against a wall. Throughout the book, this creates a density and claustrophobic intensity that is opposed by the aesthetics of the images themselves. Carefully composed and in smooth dynamics and mellow colour blockings, the pictures are reminiscent of abstract geometric paintings. An interplay of basic forms and structures are shown in scenes of abandoned buildings, empty streets, staircases and crumbling facades. Mostly the scenes are quiet – no movement, no events, no life. In this outlandish, disconcerting atmosphere, there are once in a while some human beings wandering around. In their organic, expressive forms, they seem strangely detached from their surroundings. Their gaze is seeking, targeted at some point outside of the concrete-filled frame. As Pujade-Lauraine photographs them, they seem to become involuntary protagonists in an unintentional play about a species and their unfamiliar habitat.
Through his naturalistic approach, Pujade-Lauraine gives a detached perspective on the daily impressions of urban surroundings. His images alienate the urban environment to one architectural phenomenon of shapes, shades and structures. He creates a fictional city that appears to be an insuperable barrier for its few inhabitants. A fruitless labyrinth for those that find themselves within it.
A Perpetual Season is available from MACK.