If you thought photography was about capturing existing objects and people, you're behind the times. Contemporary photographers are giving the medium superpowers in order to construct fictional realities and take you to places which only exist in their head. One of the strongest right now being Thomas Rousset, and it's not just about snapshots of a running shoe on a chicken's head.
Rousset comes from a small mountain village near Grenoble in France and studied photography at ECAL in Lausanne. His major project Praberians was largely inspired by his hometown, depicting a fictional rural community in a dreamlike French countryside where the everyday bled into the surreal. Carving pagan symbols on a watermelon, using Moët bottle caps as jewellery, adorning your body with dog stickers; by depicting such seemingly bizarre, random acts, Rousset questions everyday rituals and common modern behaviour. After all, our smartphones, daily pilgrimages to work and club dance patterns are just as weird – it's just a question of point of view. Rousset's latest collaborative project with Raphael Verona, Waska Tatay, goes even further, studying the culture of Bolivian witch doctors in regions of the Altiplano, and how their sacred traditions fit in with the contemporary world.
Dazed spoke with Rousset about primitive art, Waska Tatay and the weirdest Bolivian ritual he’s ever taken part in.
Do you remember how and why you started taking pictures?
Thomas Rousset: I think I really started to take pictures when I entered ECAL after dropping out of business school. But I don't consider myself a fetishist of photographic media. I would tell my stories in paintings if I could paint. My favourite phase of the project is making the sets and objects which comes before the photography.