18th c. Pigeonnier, Betteville, France (Seine-Maritime) 2005 © Vicki Topaz
A new series of photos made by American photographer Vicki Topaz documents a little known quirk in French architectural and cultural history: elaborately designed pigeon houses (called pigeonniers or columbiers in French) built for status-conscious aristocrats from the 14th century up until the French Revolution. These photos by Topaz, made with her plastic Diana camera over the course of four years, call to mind to the architectural typology studies by Bernd and Hilla Becher (though without the rigid precision and obsessive discipline of the Bechers). They remind me even more of Atget’s loving photos taken in and around Paris at the turn of the century.
Lens Culture is pleased to present an overview of 24 images from Topaz’s series, Silent Nests, plus a brief text she wrote about these architectural oddities.
A solo exhibition of this work is now showing at Galerie Ardi Photographies in Caen, France, February 2008 – April 2008.
Topaz’s artist’s book, Silent Nests, was nominated for the 2007 Aperture West Book Prize, and can be purchased through booksellers, Vamp & Tramp.