« How might one tell the story of a place? How many pictures does it take, not to show what a place looks like, but to capture its intangible energy? Photographer Laurent Segretier creates portraits of places that are only half real, places that are drawn, in large part, from the collective imagination, from displaced memories and fantasies, from cartoons and cinematic universes that play and replay, contort and distort, digest and repurpose the streets we walk on a daily basis.

Take Segretierʼs Taikoo Place. Where we typically see functionality— spaces to work, mostly, and the infrastructure of getting to work and making it bearable—Segretier instead finds a dreamworld, and then goes on to construct it through surgically precise interventions into the photographic record. The result: a new place, one that can only exist fleetingly in a concise series of photographs. This is not a flat and equal catalogue of the many details that make up a landscape. Segretier uses focus to hone in on some things and blur out many others, creating a rich and layered portrait of collective being that floats somewhere high above ground level.

Key details: manicures, high heels, knotted overcoats, sparkling engagement rings, hair just slightly out of place. Elsewhere: motorbike rims, grey skies, sidewalks. But these arenʼt two distinct categories, not a stage with its players. Not a fashion show or a play with a beginning and an end but a movie that keeps on playing long after the camera cuts away, a cast of characters endlessly returning to wardrobe and choosing new armor for a new morning. “Every day a feather,” he calls it.

Itʼs a constellation, a flattened world in which a routine as simple as going to work becomes something else entirely, an OL noir and a courier soap opera. These are the everyday aesthetic choices that elevate a life. Laurent Segretierʼs trademark visual style melds a French-Caribbean upbringing spent watching Japanese animation with an abiding love for street style and a curiosity about the technological world in which we are increasingly living. He swears that Hong Kong Island reminds him of Guadeloupe in a futuristic way. This is the conceptual world in which he operates: creating new dimensions out of memories and fantasies, and then allowing us all to live there alongside him. »

Robin PECKHAM
Art critic and curator
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@laurentsegretier