Here: Medicine Tree → Sometimes, healing comes through telling; but it is not expected to happen through photography. Medicine Tree is a project by the photographer Lucas Olivet, about a remote and depleted place in Canada, where the number of missing and murdered indigenous women seems continuously on the rise. Olivet’s sequences result from a stay in the place, together with the writer Lauren Haddad, meeting representatives of the place. Rather than telling what happened, the sequence displaces the viewer into the world presented by the story. Shown at the Free Ports during No'Photo, the Geneva Photography Biennial, the immersive character of the acclaimed show was enhanced by the audio track assembled from interviews and field recordings as well as a non-fiction essay.
There: A place from where to tell → Employing mostly analogue photography, Olivet works at first in an intuitive way, where staging and snapshot blend together. “I realised over the years that photography wasn’t about obstructions but possibilities, and a mixing of categories is not to be avoided but to be embraced, protected even”, says the photographer. Then, in a second step, the story — the actual writing — comes together and takes place. Like his first body of work based on a legend, Kopiec Bonawentura, it blends a real and a fictional place. For this ensemble, shown in 2018 at the Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, Olivet himself wrote texts to accompany his pictures, adding songs and quotes from other authors, to make his first photobook.
Everywhere: Staying in between → Olivet’s work takes place very much between the real and the poetic, inspired by the work of photographers such as John Gossage, where fiction plays an important role in the process of telling a story about a place. Yet the documentary dimension of his practice has also been acknowledged. This is also reflected in the research grant the photographer received for his project Medicine Tree, which received an honourable mention in 2019 in the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize, from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, North Carolina.
Lucas Olivet → (*1985), Based in Geneva, www.lucasolivet.ch
Education → MA in Photography, CEPV, Vevey
Project(s) → Medicine Tree, 2019