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François Halard is a man of many projects. His decade spanning career has seen him cultivate a treasure trove of projects for the likes of GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair. His photographs capture the beauty of busy rooms and cluttered counters, familiar sights for many in their day to day lives, but often overlooked. They add life they to a room. François’s approach often examines the feelings of homeliness and belonging, with often alien rooms to the viewer, becoming instantly familiar through his lens.

The re-publishing of 56 Days in Arles, gives readers an opportunity to experience for the first time, or re-visit, one of his most celebrated works to date. 56 Days is his exploration into his own private space, something many artists closely guard, with him examining his home under the same lens in which he has focused on others. This photo series is centred around that of the initial lock down within France. During this lockdown François undertook an exploration of his home, and the life it had taken on over the years he had inhabited it. François’s approach emphasised feelings of space, and personal connection, which only served to not only exemplify his skills as an artist but also to warmly invite the reader into his home.

In your recent Vogue interview, you described how you have never stayed anywhere for more than 5 weeks. Did this approach to your work form naturally or was it always a deliberate action?
It was a mix of both, since I was working in New York but I always had my private life in France.
Your book 56 Days in Arles has just been reprinted, how long did it take you to find an order to the pages that you liked? Did it form together quite naturally or was it more a planned-out approach?
We took the pictures during the first lockdown and the layout was completed with my friend Tony during the second one. We kind of respect the flow of the everyday polaroid production.
You have mentioned how you want to seek out true collectors of art to photograph? What is your criteria for someone to qualify as one?
I guess, I was speaking for myself.
Would you define yourself as strictly a photographer or would you define yourself more openly than that?
Sure I am not strictly a photographer! But also I see myself as a collector and an artist.
Your polaroid collection was an encapsulating series for many during the original Covid-19 lock downs. Do you think this re-examination of personal space that you explored was experienced by many who were also stuck in their houses?
I think it’s always important to re-explore your personal space. I hope people had the chance to enjoy the difficult process.
Your photos of Greece, from your latest project, explore the beauty of the statues there and their surroundings. Was this series a long-term ambition or a spur of the moment project?
I had a long term ambition to work on the idea of antiques. It started with Cy Twombly’s paintings and photographs to fulfill and extend beyond my wishes to explore Greece's mythological side. I took this book opportunity to start a new body of work on Greece.
Sculptures are often featured in your work; do you think there is an art in their placement within a room?
I just simply enjoy taking photographs of sculptures and ceramics, like the photos I do for my friend Miquel Barcelo or the pictures I did of the sculptures of Cy Twombly. Of course the placement in a room is always important, but not as much as the objects themselves.
In an interview featured in Apollo you mentioned how in a way you view your house as one big studio. Could you talk a bit about some of your favorite pieces that have been created in your house?
I use my house as a big studio. I move objects all around and I am constantly photographing them as living still life.
Within the introduction for 56 Days in Arles, you are described as having a love affair with every object in your house. What does this type of relationship mean to you?
Every object is a personal memory of a trip or a place I visited. They are like family following me all over the place.
Throughout it, there are several polaroids of masks scattered throughout you house. Are these masks you have acquired throughout your travels?
I started actually to collect first photographs of African masks by Walker Evans. Then, many years after I started a collection of them.
Covid-19 lockdowns have led to a rise in photography projects being based in someone’s home environment. As someone who is very experienced in this field, have any projects emerged recently that have particularly caught your attention?
I was moved by the work of Aliki Christoforou. She did photographs from her hospital room during a long period of isolation.
Do you have a camera or piece of equipment that has stayed constant throughout your work or do you alternate your kit as a location requires?
I always carry a polaroid 690 camera, a Pentax 6x7 and a Mamiya 6 with me.
Do you believe your style of photography fits into a certain category or is it something more unto itself?
I do not like to limit myself into a category.
Final question, Do you have any interior design tips for those who have little knowledge on the subject on how to maximise the value of their space?
To just follow your instinct. There are no rules to respect. You could mix any object from every period if you feel the association of them makes a story.





Words
Callum Paterson

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