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Montreal-based photographer Alain Paiement opened his first solo show in Mumbai entitled Surfacing Over There at the Matthieu Foss Gallery on March 3, 2011. This is a fascinating show for two very important reasons:

  1. All the photographs provide an overhead view, which is an awesome perspective.
  2. All the pictures are displayed absent conventional frames. The prints were prepared in Montreal and then mounted on a thin base that is a layered construction of aluminum and plastic.

Apparently these mounts were created in Delhi and they need to be seen to be believed. When I expressed disappointment that such a thing was not accessible in Mumbai, Matthieu Foss correctly countered that it is a good thing that such a display option is available in India at all.

While the overhead shots of people bathing are interesting, I was most intrigued by the large overhead shots that the photographer had composited together from several shots he had taken, covering the entire surface area of the space he was photographing. Affording us a bird’s eye-view of scenes like the daily routine in a Montreal bakery, the layout of Mr. Paiement’s home in 2002 as well as the 2009 recreation of another subject’s home wherein the two pieces show the difference between those areas decorated by the man of the house and those decorated by his wife…all of these pieces offer greater rewards if a viewer spends time with them.

In one sense, the shots of the various interiors looks like the ‘after’ version of a architect’s rendering of the design of a home. But because Mr. Paiement is working within a three-dimensional space it is interesting to see how he has managed to include the edges of the spaces and even to convey a sense of depth, especially in the descent of staircases leading to a lower level.

As I remarked to him after I had stared at piece featuring the bakery for a while, it reminded me of the overhead-looking-down viewpoint that is so prevalent in the movie Enter The Void.
[If you haven’t watched this movie yet, do so. But be warned it is hard core, in every way imaginable. ]

Before the opening we were also able to interview Mr. Paiement and he had some interesting things to say about the works and his approach.

Surfacing Over There is on display at the Matthieu Foss Gallery in Mumbai until the 2nd of April, 2011.