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Eric Tabuchi

A Parisian photographer's objective take on small towns in a dual retrospective

by Isabelle Doal in Culture on 09 March 2011

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Upon first glance Eric Tabuchi's photographs merely feature disgraceful gas stations lost in no man's land, Chinese restaurants in improbable settings and skate parks where dull gray tones consume the entire landscape. His subjects seem like superfluous outcasts with to no real place in in the world. His curiosity instead explores the metaphorical confines of belonging to nature, by portraying these humble, fading buildings and objects he reveals realities about our surroundings with new eyes—as a foreigner would do—showing how the outskirts may tell something about the center.

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Influenced by the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher, a German photography duo known for their depictions of industrial buildings as typology, Tabuchi—who formally studied sociology—draws attention to the tiny signs located in the margin of normality. He demonstrates how eventually, if not on purpose, things end up looking like each other through instinctive use of the same symbols and aesthetic.

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An echo to each photo's outstanding simplicity and stark surroundings, the neutral positioning of his subjects tells about Tabuchi's point of view and approach, which is to remain objective and refrain from creating any amount of melancholy within the picture. He feels the best place for a picture is in a magazine, where it is printed, seen and thrown away. For Tabuchi, pictures are nothing but common everyday life items.

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As a delayed secondary effect, the loneliness of these oft-abandoned remnants reaches the observer with their familiar shapes, like how going back home would do. For that reason, when Tabuchi exhibits his photos he always tries to merge them among other objects and forms so that it, as an overall picture, makes a new landscape and in the end a new picture.

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The French photographer is also known for his books—most notably for "Alphabet Truck" and his interpretation of Ed Ruscha's "Twentysix Gasoline Stations." With both books and all of his works, Tabuchi did extensive traveling, documenting what looks a lot like America but is actually all shot "within a 250-km radius from Paris."

Tabuchi's extensive repertoire is on view at two galleries in Strasbourg, France. Creating one unified retrospective, "Mini Golf" opens at La Chambre 11 March 2011 and runs through 8 May 2011 while "Indoor Land" is currently on display at Le Maillon and runs through 29 April 2011.

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