Ever since French film director Damien Peyret took up photography he tended to see it as an extension of his film work with the two arts engaged in a dialogue of some sort.
The Swim & Steam project best exemplifies this creative relation. It came into being during the making of his award-winning film “Un taxi pour Reykjavik”. The harmonious dialogue did not deprive the photographic project of its autonomy and it emphasized the artist’s interest, common for both the film and images, in the narrow strip of space where reality blends with fiction, with its unusual and ambiguous existence evidenced by nothing but photography.
Swim & Steam consists of a series of images taken with the Polaroid SX70. The Polaroid aesthetics intensifies the sensation of having crossed the border of reality. Portraits of men and women soaking in steaming hot pools seem to be telling a story originating in a different world, peaceful and detached, where gravity does not interfere with people’s lives.
Sophie Bernard, Managing Editor of Images magazine in Paris, wrote about this series:
“The communion with natural elements is here akin to a state of grace.
“Freed of gravity, bodies remain discreetly unobtrusive and disappear into evanescent silhouettes that are unfathomable to any camera lens … That leaves staring eyes, faces lined with enigmatic smiles, ecstatically … with a persistent feeling of strangeness.
“Chemistry is at work here. The same chemistry that is to be found in the blurred rendering of Polaroid pictures, accentuating the deformations caused by water vapour. The use of SX70 film neutralizes colours and echoes the aquatic blue. Damien Peyret loves this random factor inherent with a Polaroid camera. Better, the accident and imperfection of colours persistently renew the thrill of discovery, the excitement as the image appears and materializes.
“Peyret does not reveal everything in his photographs. He simply touches on things. And so much the better, because he looks at them with not only his eyes but also his own sensitivity, inviting each onlooker to his or her own meditation.”