by Zeva Bellel
In the wee morning hours of 1 February 2008, a four-alarm fire ravaged 1000º C: Deyrolle documents the aftermath with hauntingly beautiful images of the shop.
âThe scene had a Pompeii feeling to it, almost like an archeological dig,â recalls Bochet of the charred and ransacked insides of the nearly two-hundred-year-old boutique. Deyrolleâs owner Louis Albert de Broglie gave Bochet, a close friend, carte blanche to capture it all on film. His only challenge was making sure his twisted and disfigured subjects lasted through their photo session.
Working quickly, Bochet set up a makeshift studio on-site. In the harried two weeks following the fire, he shot close to 300 photographs—from eviscerated goats and roasted butterflies to liquefied canisters and sooty minerals.
After nearly two years renovating the space and rebuilding the collection, Deyrolle recently reopened his new and improved digs with a pared-down yet still remarkable collection, as well as a temporary exhibition of Bochetâs stunning still-lives through 1 December 2009.
CH recently had the opportunity to discuss the fire with photographer Laurent Bochet about that night and the resulting images.
How did you get access to Deyrolle after the fire?
I knew the owner, Louis Albert de Broglie, so when I found out about the fire I contacted him. I was very curious about what had happened to the space and I wanted to see it for myself. When I got there I was completely shocked, it was so beautiful, but yet so sad. For an institution like Deyrolle, it was a dramatic event, not only for its historic importance, but also because how devastatingly beautiful the fire scene was.
When and where were the photos taken?
I was lucky to be able to take the photos at Deyrolle between the small window of time after the fire and before work began on the space. I only had two weeks to do it. The fire was on February 1st, so that meant I had until the 15th or 16th to complete the series. The animals were so fragile that the urgency was in capturing them before they completely disintegrated.
How did the firemen react to the scene?
The fire had been raging for several hours when the firemen showed up so the place was thick with black smoke. Here they are in a Parisian apartment (because the shop is technically a large apartment), and theyâre in the dark surrounding by wild animals. They were confused and lost. One fireman told me how freaked out they were when they ran into a wild tiger! Suffice to say it was a very surreal and scary experience.
Through 31 December 2009
46 rue de Bac
75007 Paris, France map
tel. +33 (0) 1 42 22 30 07