When you think that buildings are everywhere, in different shapes and sizes since the humankind exists in society, you realise the importance of having a roof under which to build your life. Photographer Dimitri Djuric decided to go on a deeper level to explore buildings under construction, to investigate more about the ceaseless urban transformation. Originally from France but living in London, he never leaves home without a compact camera to shoot any unexpected moment and to give space to the imagination.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I’m a photographer, I’m French, and grew up in the banlieue of Paris. I moved to London about twenty years ago. I mostly shoot concerts, portraits and events.
How did you get into photography and what’s your background?
I studied Economics, worked as a broker for a while. I always liked photography. I would always photograph people in house parties, office parties and nightclubs. I would never go out without a compact camera and a few rolls of film. Growing up, we had a dedicated dark room in the house, so I learned to print black and white.
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You are interested in architecture. You said that it might come from the fact that your father and your sister are both architects, and obviously London contributes. What’s the first thing you notice when you shoot buildings?
Yes, my interest in architecture might come from being surrounded by architects and hearing a lot of conversations about architecture and urbanism. I don’t think there’s one specific thing I notice first when I shoot buildings, it depends. Sometimes it’s a detail, sometimes it’s the scale or the complexity.
How long have you been working on the project Esthetique Chantier, which we’re now presenting?
One year and a half.
You also said that you are caught by the methods of construction, the safety features, etc. What’s so magical about them? We can see many buildings under construction in this project, why this choice? Can you tell us more about the concept of ‘unfinished architecture’?
In London (and in a lot of large cities), building sites and road works are omnipresent, there’s a permanent transformation happening in our environment. The building site is not a temporary state, it never ends; one building after another.
Instead of dealing with the finished product I found interesting to photograph these moments, the unfinished architecture. It’s both visually chaotic and very organised at the same time, with a multitude of coordinated actions happening. There’s a point in the construction of a building when you can see both its shape and its insides. Some of the staircases and internal walls are installed. It’s like a full-scale cutaway model: very readable and real, but there’s also a space for imagination. The meeting point where reality meets the possible. When you look at it you can imagine what it could possibly be used for and how.
Buildings are different but the base materials, the methods, the tools, the traffic cones and the reflective stripes are used everywhere. I’m using these visual motifs. They are very visually strong because a lot of them are about safety and warnings.
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Your pictures are mainly shot really late, in the evening/night, when the carpenters are not working, giving them an atmosphere of abandonment. Why did you decide to do so? Is it just because of the weather and because you wanted this flashy effect?
At first I would visit sites during the day but I ended up having images with very different colours and moods depending on the weather. I also wanted to apply the direct flash/snapshot aesthetic to large subjects. I started lighting the buildings myself with flashes. With this type of lighting I can reveal some of the inside elements that would be in the shadows. It also exaggerates the contrast between the grey concrete and the colours of the tools and construction elements.
Is there any particular photographer that inspires you or you appreciate the most?
There are so many: Anders Petersen, Lars Tunbjork, Susan Meiselas, Larry Fink, Derek Ridgers, Jacopo Benassi, Tom Wood, Mark Power to name just a few.
You’ve also published some books, including Pictures of People Listening to Music and We Break Strings. Why did you choose each of the following themes for both of your books? How does music influence your photography?
The idea for We Break Strings came from the music label Nonclassical and the concept was further developed with writer Thom Andrews. I was already into that music but for the project I really tried to be exhaustive and explore the whole new experimental/alternative classical scene in London. I like to photograph performances and that scene is super interesting. Pictures of People Listening To Music was a kind of a spin-off; I had all these pictures of the audience and thought it would be interesting to put them together as a series.
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Do you think you will publish a book on this collection, too?
Yes. The book format is for me the best way to present a photographic work, and I love designing and making books. For any project I spend some time on doing them; I have this idea of making it into a book or booklet. But there are still some things I want to push with this project, getting access can take a long time.
Communication is the key for our life, isn’t it? If viewers could take away one thing from your work, what would you like that to be?
I’m not sure what to say about this. I like the idea of leaving the viewer decide and not direct too much.
We know that you keep working on this project, shooting from the street and trying to have access to new sites. Is there any other project you are working on as well, or future project you would like to share with us?
Yes, I’m working on other things, but I can’t say they are projects yet. I’ll be sure to share them with you when they are a bit more mature.
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