The title almost says it all: Laurent Chéhère’s “Flying Houses” series features photos of dwellings detached from their surroundings and placed in the heavens among clouds and birds, occasionally still tethered by telephone lines. Inspired by his own dreams, the photographer focuses on architecture from underprivileged districts in Paris that, when combined with the magic of flight, create a universe that is both whimsical and eerie.
Chéhère hails from the Menilmontant neighborhood of Paris, and is quite partial to the north of Paris in general, which includes Pigalle and its red-light district. “You go down to the local bakery and you’ve travelled the world,” says the photographer. With his camera in hand, he strolls the streets of his bohemian Paris to “be on the scene and observe real people,” preferably away from Haussmanian buildings which he finds much “too uniform, with facades that mask reality.”
The photographs are a mix of many cultural references, from Gainsbourg to B-movie film maker Max Pécas. Chéhère is a photo surgeon of sorts, specializing in transplants of elements and images. Having spent fourteen years in advertising, the artist knows how to spin a tale. Of his method, the artist says “I start with a drawing and then search for my cast of characters.” Chéhère will spend anywhere from a week to a month on each piece. “I work in layers, often reworking the image,” he explains.
After traveling the world for four years, the “Flying Houses” have finally landed in New York. Be sure to catch a glimpse of them before they float away.
“FLYING HOUSES” by Laurent Chéhère.
Muriel Guépin Gallery, 83 Orchard St, New York, NY10002
The exhibit is open to the public until December 7th.