DATE: 2/1/2012 | BY CORY REYNOLDS
Horizonville, by Swiss-born photographer Yann Gross, was recently featured on the New York Times Lens blog. For more images and Joël Vacheron's essay on Horizonville, excerpted from the book, please scroll down.
"David Lynch’s film The Straight Story, which is based on a true story, recounts the odyssey of Alvin Straight, a retiree who drives hundreds of miles on a lawn-mower to visit his dying brother. It takes him about six weeks to get there, the time he needs for a philosophical meditation on the subtleties that shape his journey. In this, as it were, parody of the road-movie genre, Lynch paints a very human portrait of eccentric trajectories, somewhere on the outskirts of the American dream.
Far from the desolate spaces of Iowa and Wisconsin, Gross was inspired by Lynch’s paean to slowness to explore the Valley of the Rhone and thereabouts. With his camera equipment and a small tent stowed in a little trailer towed by a moped, he had the independence and mobility he needed to follow the rhythms of the valley.
Rothis Western City
Eschewing the fast main roads, he made a virtue of taking things slowly. This patient style of exploration brought him into contact with marginal life-styles and gave him the opportunity to observe those elusive details that escape the hurried glance.
Horizonville, then, is a meticulous photographic investigation with continual changes of scale. It hovers subtly between fiction and documentary, enabling us to question the ways in which we usually pass through any given environment, how we perceive it and give meaning to it.
This out-of-sync road-movie also raises questions about the symbolic re-appropriation of a geographical site, the creation of an imaginary community, and, perhaps, a new take on the hackneyed codes of a particular genre of movie.
As in The Straight Story, this modest ‘art of the fugue’ proves to be an effective means of tracing forms of exoticism that are hidden by the very localness of those communities.
Lion of the Mountains
Horizonville is nowhere. It is a compression of time and space, a mythic horizon, an exotic vision of America in which dreams and gaze converge with impunity.
Tractor Pulling Track
Through his choice of models and his discreet arrangement of the settings, Gross enters into a kind of partnership with these people, increasing the charge of glamour that feeds their collective fantasy. He draws particularly on codes which belong at times to the aesthetics of the cinema; at other times to documentary photography." — Joël Vacheron, excerpted from Horizonville.
Yann Gross: Horizonville
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