ATTRAPER AU VOL (catch in the air)
Photography and skateboarding forge a representative and solid tradition to stage life itself. Despite the tendency some of them knew how to establish something different. Such is the case of Fred Mortagne, whose work has always shown a more literary imprint that conceives the scenario carefully in a way that breaks with certain naturalistic illusion. It describes a world. But we are not interested in the change itself, but as an evolution, as growth we are. Who is not busy being born is busy dying. That’s another way to put it.
Opening a nonexistent void, by those days, where all art is possible, the beginning of something after all, a neuralgic point where all repression collides, generating respect with the freedom that culture provides, faith in expression.
An artist who reveals light in the shadow of the world, as a proof of the versatility of the space created, a major contribution carried out in the illusion of a new form, an association without limits.
Fred Mortagne exclusively with SUBTERRANEO.
ABOUT THE BOOK
What is the selection process of the images you used in the book?
It was really hard! I first went to spend time with Thomas Campbell at his place in Santa Cruz, CA. I brought ALL the pictures I consider good that I shot over the years. We made a selection, then over the months, we narrowed it down little by little. We had to let go so many pictures, because it’s not a 300 pages book! Thomas is really good at finding a rhythm for the viewing experience, that’s why some not obvious pictures are in the book, and certain famous ones didn’t make the cut.
Where does the name "Attraper au vol" comes from?
It’s a french expression that butterfly catchers could use. Literally it’s about grabbing something flying around. I chose that title because that notion perfectly applies both to skateboarding and photography. Skaters “catch” their boards in mid air after flipping them for example, and photography is about capturing and freezing some elusive slices of life that almost never stay still, just like a butterfly.
What's your book about?
What kind of content we will find in your book? The general axle is skateboarding, but there are of course other things, as I get to spend a lot of time out with skateboarding, and I’ve always been into shooting other things as well, as skateboarding gave me the great opportunity of travelling extensively. As soon as I started travelling, I was like “Ok, I really need to start shooting pictures, I can’t waste that opportunity”.
How do you base your election to shoot in digital or analog?
I’ve been a great supporter of analogue from the beginning. But for the last 3 years I almost shot only digital, because I am collaborating with Leica to shoot with their newest cameras, all digital. My book is a mix of both, and they mix together perfectly. But I’m looking forward to shoot on film again, because it is a different experience. When shooting, I’m not in the same mental state if I shoot film, or digital. I’m much more focused when shooting film. I don’t need to trigger multiple times. Therefore when I shoot a picture, I know if I got it right. With digital, I’m never sure and have to look at the screen, which might make me miss another picture to shoot!
Did you colaborate in this book with Thomas Campbell or was it only in the video "Cuatro sueños pequeños"? And how is it to collaborate with him?
Thomas and I get get along super well. Working together its super natural, because we both do things in a way so the result can’t get any better. We are fully dedicated. Working on “Cuatros” was just great, that was Thomas’s film, but as director of photography, he let me a lot of freedom, because he trust me, like I trust him. That’s why doing the book with him was the best scenario possible!
Which role does architecture plays in your photography, in your work?
It is an important character in my pictures, just like the skateboarders are. I mean just like it is important to skateboarding. But for some reasons for
such a long time, you would never see much the environment around the skateboarders in magazines and videos, although skaters get to go to crazy and uniques places all the time. I always thought it was a pity, so I wanted to contribute to change things. Also, skateboarding is so much about skating stuff that was not designed for skateboarding… There are some insane looking “natural” spots out there, so I take advantage of that.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHY
Can you tell me how Light and shadow, patterns, etc takes place in your photography?
It’s not like I can concretely explain it. It’s a general feeling that I have, and I’m attracted by those things, and I don’t really know why. I’m not living in a minimalist b&w loft designed by some architect! It’s not something I pursue in my everyday life, but when it comes to shoot, that’s all I see, or that I’m looking for.
What is the reason for using black and white?
As a young kid I was fascinated by Charlie Chaplin movies, and I could never visualise that the real life in 1900 was not looking like a b&w grainy and dusty film rolling at 16 fps (people moving faster) and that the life feeling was just the exact same. And so I loved that it would create this strange reality. That’s the feeling I want my pictures to have. To go beyond reality to bring different emotions than the everyday life. B&w brings a timeless feel, and charges the pictures with artistic flavours. I like to confuse people and have recent pictures looking like they could have been shot 40 years ago.
To which horizons are you looking forward to be after finishing with this book?
I surely want to shoot more photography than I’ve been doing up until now, I really want to focus more onto it, because for 15 years, it’s mostly been a hobby on the side of my filmmaker activity. I also want to shoot more diverse things on top of skateboarding, which I already started, and it’s very refreshing.
Wich subjects, themes or emotions are you looking forward to photograph?
I mean, anything I like that I can apply my photographic style to. I really want to transpose it to other subjects, which can only enrich it. I’ll always shoot skateboarding I think, but I can’t only shoot it. I need to open up my photography not to repeat myself and stay excited to shoot.
"Skaters catch their boards in mid air after flipping them, and photography is about capturing and freezing some elusive slices of life that almost never stay still, just like a butterfly".
ABOUT LIFE, TRAVELLING AND STREET CULTURE
How is living in Lyon? How this influences your work?
I like it here because it’s a big city without being too big. For a long time I never shot too much here, you are usually more inspired to shoot pictures when you travel. But for the last few years, I’ve been travelling less, as a choice, and so it made me re-discover my city you know. I needed to shoot and so I had to do it here, and finally my city started to inspire me. It’s not easy because when you know a place so well, it doesn’t feel any special anymore, and there’s great stuff you don’t shoot. It’s just like when you have friends coming over from a different place, and they tell you what they visited, and you realise you haven’t gone to any of those places in your own city where the tourist go to when they come!
How travelling and knowing a lot of places defines you, your photography and your creative process?
I had the chance to travel a lot and I’m very thankful. that’s one of the best thing skateboarding brought me, because life is so rich and diverse, but our respective cultures limit our range of view. Societies, local cultures and traditions are formatting us and are affecting the way we look at life and what we do with it for ourselves. Now I can say that I am myself because I control my vision on the world, and adapt my life accordingly, to my own feelings. But it took me so much time to figure it out, and without travelling a lot , which helped opening my mind, I wouldn’t be who I am today, but more of a product of french society. I go by the nick name French Fred, but believe me I’m not the most french guy at all! I live in France, but on the side of french society. I’m not fully part of it. I stay open to good and positive inspirations that can come from anywhere else, then I make my own little mix.
What kind of perspective does this gives you?
My own perspective on the world. As I said my photography doesn’t represent how I live in my everyday life…I’m playing with various ingredients to create something else…to bring another view on the crazy world we live in, more aesthetically, poetic, sensitive… an artistic utopia maybe. I don’t know. I don’t intellectualize it too much, I just follow my feeling and my instinct.
Fred Mortagne, french artist, or better known as French Fred, is one of the most respected skateboarding filmmakers and photographers of the world, among his works he has collaborated with different brands like Element, Leica, Cliché, Flip, és. But, while Fred has made a strong mark on the cinematic world, what is striking us is his sensitivity at freezing unique moments. Atrapper Au Vol (Catch in the Air), his new book, culminates years of Fred’s work (2000-2015), offering a sublime lens on life. A feast of lines and angles, his deliberate compositions blend skaters into their environment; offering an abstract perspective on architecture and geometry. His work intrigues both skaters and non-skaters alike, slowing the blur of modern life just enough to expose what is below the surface. Fred's fluid style evokes the esthetic beauty of skate and the muse of urban culture rather than pure performance, although the raw talent of his subjects is readily apparent. Across settings, subjects and locales, Attraper Au Vol exposes Fred’s signature style in one beautiful hard cover book. Shot both on film and digital 35mm format, this collection of images is a canon for the world of skate, and a body of art all its own. Fred's photographs are framed by a foreword from world renowned photographer Anton Corbijn and an essay by Geoff Rowley, one of the greatest skateboarders of all-time whom Fred works with extensively.
Introduction by Marcio Parks.
Interview by Juan Cruz Molas y Molas.
Edited by Juan Cruz Molas y Molas.
Self-portrait and photographs courtesy of Fred Mortagne.
Una mirada auténtica sobre la subcultura.
(an authentic look about subculture).
To see more about Fred Mortagne go to:
Official website: http://frenchfred.com/
Web Um yeah arts: http://umyeaharts.com/