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Meeting with Arnaud Ele

Photographer and director

Meeting with Arnaud Ele - illustration 1

Meet Arnaud Ele, the talented photographer and film director from Cameroon devoted to film photography. Known for his endlessly cool fashion shots, videos and documentaries, he refuses to settle in one given place, having spent much of his life travelling. His identity is rooted in this itinerancy, and he deeply values escapism and experimentation, which are essential to his brilliantly intimate pictures. Step into his stylish world.

You studied film in Geneva; do you think the knowledge you gained there has influenced the way you take photos?

Absolutely, my training in film was hugely influential. Studying the history of film made me better able to understand an image and the structure of the medium itself but also to sharpen my eye. During this period I took photos intensely. My creative process and practice were therefore developed in parallel to this training as a filmmaker: analysing the psychology of the person I work with, adapting myself to different contexts, creating situations, giving life to a subject in a given space; staging animated and fixed images.

Originally from Cameroon, you have spent your life between several countries, still living today between Berlin, Paris and Lausanne. Why do you have this taste for travel? Do you think it influences your art?

Travelling is an essential part of my life. My definition of territory and 'home' is certainly different to those with other, more sedentary lives. I've never had fixed attachments. Life has led me to adapt to each environment I've been in. These movements were motivated by a story, by my story.

Meeting with Arnaud Ele - illustration 1
Meeting with Arnaud Ele - illustration 1

Since your trip to Cameroon in 2015, your photographs have increasingly questioned the notion of identity. Is your sometimes forced, sometimes intentional itinerancy a determining factor in your construction as an artist?

It is indeed a determining factor for me as an individual, which has helped me define who I am and thus also my identity as a photographer and director.

The relationship I have with Cameroon, where I was born and brought up for the first 5 years of my life, is a subconscious one. The culture and connection to the earth, smells and colours of the country are - I think - rooted in my make-up.

My return to Cameroon made me able to understand my path, my history and the itinerancy that has built me and shaped my identity. This awakening allowed me to give meaning to my work.

Your photos are true odes to escapism, youth and freedom. Why are these themes so important in your work?

We live in a society full of codes and rules. I believe it's essential to free yourself from these structures. Images allow me to both express and experience this - semblance of - freedom.

Light and contrasts seem to be a key part of your photographs, giving them an aura of warmth and softness. What is so important about the way light is treated?

Light conveys the atmosphere, the context. Contrast accentuates things, it allows the viewer to detach themself from reality and see the image from a different point of view. Their perception is then closer to that of imagination and dreams, which allows them to read the image with a more sensitive eye.

Meeting with Arnaud Ele - illustration 1
Meeting with Arnaud Ele - illustration 1

You mainly shoot with film cameras. Could you tell us how you came to make this decision?

It all started in my childhood. My father-in-law loved giving me disposable film cameras. It was then only natural that I should start film photography. Analogue has a particularity to it; an authenticity and instantaneity. 

You can sometimes give the impression that there are two Arnauds: the one who takes elegant and polished fashion photos, and then the one who experiments. The latter serves up engaging shots, focused on the detail and sensuality of his models. How do you explain this duality in your art?

Most photographers seek homogeneity. I also feel that society dictates that they fit within a specific style in order to be known for their 'thing'. Personally, I am always exploring. I like confronting different worlds. I don't like habits or conventional things. It's just me, I'm messy in creation. My process is frantic, carefree and curious. Finding this oscillation between various states gives life to the key shot.

The Paris Photo Fair is taking place from the 7th to the 10th of November; is there anything you're particularly looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to seeing the photographic scene, taking in the energy of the event and speaking to other artists in the magnificent setting of the Grand Palais. I also can't wait to share the event from my point of view with Artsper's followers!


Their favourite artworks

Our recommendations Arnaud Ele, Double, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Double, 2017
46.8 x 33.1 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,558

Our recommendations Arnaud Ele, Augapfel, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Augapfel, 2019
46.8 x 33.1 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$1,693

Arnaud Ele, Dénuée, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Dénuée, 2016
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$564

Our recommendations Arnaud Ele, L'œil orangé, Photography

Arnaud Ele

L'œil orangé, 2019
23.4 x 33.1 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$768

Our recommendations Arnaud Ele, La bleue Margot, Photography

Arnaud Ele

La bleue Margot, 2019
46.5 x 33.1 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$903

Arnaud Ele, Ambre au ballon, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Ambre au ballon, 2019
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$395

Arnaud Ele, Ambre, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Ambre, 2019
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$395