Project

They flew away: Soaring Houses in a Project by Laurent Chehere

The French photographer separates houses from land and recreates events that have occurred or could occur around them.


In mid-April at the Lumiere Brothers a Center of Photography in Moscow, "The Air Worlds of Laurent Chehere" exhibition opened. The author spoke to Bird In Flight about his project, "Flying Homes."


Laurent Chehere, 43

French photographer from Paris. His career started from commercial shooting, focusing on the city of Paris. He shifted his focus onto personal projects, using his experience from his work in advertising.


Laurent Chehere started his project after being impressed by the architecture of the natural, anti-touristic Paris, its outskirts and suburbs. He came up with the idea to detach houses from the ground and place them in the sky. The project came to him from a desire to focus on the uniqueness of each of the houses inside a context of an urban atmosphere.

Each work includes a cultural code – references to movies, fictional and real urban characters, or just people who live in Paris – it could also be taken on face value as a professionally-done montage.

First Chehere makes sketches, and then he gathers existing elements of architecture. He chooses a French sky for every house as a background, which reflects a mood. You can see many inscriptions taken from modern Parisian walls, graffiti, pixelated drawings and stencils with Chuck Norris, rapper Tupac Shakur, Bender the Robot from "Futurama" and animals from "Walking Palace" by Miyazaki.



"Red Balloon" is a direct reference to the eponymous film by Albert Lamorisse about a friendship between a boy and his balloon. You can find Chuck Norris in this piece, who is a good supplement to the story of the protagonist.


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"Vanishing Street" tells the tale of the defunct Villano Street on Belleville hill. In the past, a person could find a beautiful panorama of the city on this street. The house was created from photographs, drawings and frames from old films. There aren't any preserved images of the facade to be found, so Chehere searched for the necessary elements in the architecture of the historic center of Paris.


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"Grand Illusion" is dedicated to immigrants who have recently become Parisians. Chehere himself lives in a district with a large African population and that's why he wanted to show that their living conditions aren't much better than in Africa. Hence the name, referencing the illusion of changes in life, what people leave behind and what they gain. There are a lot of references in the piece that point to the connection these people have with their homeland.


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"The Show Must Go On" is a story about Deburau, a famous Parisian mime. The theater in the piece doesn't exist anymore, so it had to be recreated according to drawings from the 19th century. There is a sign at the theater that says "Boulevard du Crime" (Crime Boulevard) which is the unofficial name for Boulevard Trample because of the large number of theaters who’s stages featured all sorts of mischief.

There is a legend that, once, the mime himself was involved in a scandal (he was accused of disproportionate self-defense) and the whole city came to the trial to hear his voice. He had never spoken on stage before, of course. The photographer imagined what would be in this building today and put a sex shop on the ground floor.


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The piece, "Red," was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue, a crime story in which a monkey was accused of murder. The blood trickling down the walls and the rats running along the wires add a sense of mysticism to the piece.


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