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Photography: C-type on Paper.
In Toy Stories, the photographs, also set in vacant, dilapidated buildings, fasten their gaze on more tangible but unexpected presences.
Reversing the conventional studio portrait format of placing the real-life subject against an idealized, fake background such as painted clouds or a rural idyll, Clément has used all-too-real, troubled environments as the backdrop for a series of very unconventional, mass produced figures.
The effect is darkly comic and, occasionally, disturbing. The subjects are tiny, secondhand toy figures, each of which must once have represented some kind of ideal for its young owner but have since gone astray. Close up, their flaws are revealed, in the approximation of their painted features and plastic physiologies.
By photographing children’s figurines in these empty and abandoned places, in these ‘imported’ film sets, and by combining both portraiture and architecture, Clément is staging imaginary untold stories. They are the very stories he once made up as a child, playing at home, his imagination released, having just returned from the forbidden derelict building nearby. The work is about regaining childhood, where imagination rules in a world without rules.
Whether seen just as toys with a story to tell or as something less innocent, Clément’s subjects take photographic portraiture into a bizarre new sphere.