as goswell road opens in paris, photographer patrick weldé encourages us to fuck the system
We invite Coralie Ruiz and Anthony Stephinson, the duo behind Paris' new art space Goswell Road, to discuss their venture with the first artist-in-residence, photographer Patrick Weldé.
As the world tries to come up with a reaction to a political year of Trump and Brexit doom, two artists in Paris are doing their part to fight for what they believe in. Goswell Road is the newly launched art space and publishing house in Paris' multicultural 10eme arrondissement headed up by art collective Ruiz Stephinson. Christened after the street Coralie Ruiz and Anthony Stephinson lived on in London for eight years before they relocated to Paris in 2011, for one week each month the initiative will opens the doors to the duo's studio space inviting a new artist to show his or her work to public—and with each show publish a book. Kicking off the project this weekend is the young Alsace-born, now Paris-based photographer Patrick Weldé, whose joyous and celebratory, candid photos of life without a filter he's prophetically titled FUCK THE SYSTEM. i-D invited the artists to share their thoughts.
Anthony Stephinson: The FUCK THE SYSTEM images are in some ways 'selfies' because it is you in the photographs, but we never see your face?
Patrick Weldé: At first I didn't want people to know it was me. I wanted to make a photo shoot, but I didn't have models. I was in my village and my mother didn't want to be my model, so I thought, ok, it's me.
Coralie Ruiz: It came from a desire to make fashion imagery?
Patrick Weldé: Yes, it was consciously going against the idea of luxury brands - I wanted to create a fake brand, so I took clothes from vintage shops and reworked them, because, fuck this fashion industry that is driven by nothing but money. My intention was to make a brand with nothing.
Coralie: So you became the non-face of a non-brand?
Patrick: Exactly. I took the images with a timer so I am alone, and I can't see; I dress, run into frame and set off the timer.
Anthony: Who is the punk that features several times in the images in the exhibition?
Patrick: My crush! Though he doesn't know it. He has such a great look, with a big dog and a cat on his shoulder. He lives in the metro, but I think he's very happy. He's always saying to people, "You! You represent the system!"
Anthony: So he represents?
Patrick: Yes, fuck the system!
Anthony: You were the obvious choice to be the first show in Goswell Road; it's not a gallery, it's a way to enable artists to show their work outside of the established systems. How did you start taking photos?
Patrick: At first I only shot my best friend, because she was very intense, always laughing and full of energy, and I thought, I need to take pictures of her and our life. After I started to take pictures of all my friends together, mostly taken secretly, with the camera hidden.
Anthony: So this is why we have very little direct eye contact with the subjects?
Patrick: My friends didn't even realise, but it became habitual. They knew that if they were in the toilet I would come, or sleeping, I would come… For us there were no barriers, it was normal. I was living with my best friend at the time in Strasbourg, and the space was open, without walls. So we had no complexes between us, we slept in the same bed, with no issues. Everything starts with her.
Anthony: These were the images you published on a Blogspot and there were people in your village that found them provocative?
Patrick: Oh yes…
Anthony: How did they see the blog?
Patrick: I don't know! I think they were curious to see something that, in fact, they didn't want to see, but at the same time they looked and said things like, "They are probably doing drugs, fucking together, it's like a sect." And that's totally not us. We never take drugs and we don't drink. People were saying things like, 'It's disgusting,' and I thought, it's my life, I'm sorry if I'm disgusting.
Coralie: The first time that we saw your pictures they moved us. You could feel the love in them, and the authenticity.
Patrick: For me it's so important to be authentic.
Coralie: We're also showing a selection of images from your Instagram that is of course monitored by Instagram's strict imaging rules. How do you use Instagram?
Patrick: I show my life; and I also show images that I love from photographers like Derek Ridgers, Walter Pfeiffer, or old skinhead fanzines. I'm obsessed with books. Every day I want to buy books, but I have no budget! If I have a bad day, I go into a bookshop and look at a book, and after I feel better. But, yes, with Instagram, comes more control, because if I post pussy or ass on Instagram it gets removed directly. It's so ridiculous; I see more ass on the street than on Instagram.
Coralie: People receive it in their 'private feed', and it's not diluted by the city and it's noise, so it puts them in front of themselves and they take it as an aggression. It brings us back again to the story of the people from your village that looked at your Blogspot…
Patrick: I don't see life like that. Though I do feel more creative in my hometown, much more than in Paris. The only place I take a lot of photos in Paris is in the Metro, undercover with the phone. I've developed a great technique to do that.
Coralie: Do you think you have a responsibility to your subjects to let them know that you have taken their photograph?
Patrick: Not at all, I think our generation is going backwards with all of these restrictions and rules. I think people are returning to ideals and society is regressing. We need to make something new, and celebrate love.
Patrick Weldé, FUCK THE SYSTEM opens Saturday 26th November at Goswell Road, 18 Rue de l'Échiquier, 75010 Paris from 4pm until 8pm. The show continues by appointment only until 4th December.
Text Anders Christian Madsen