This Artist Levitates Parisian Homes in a Circus Act of Art and Photography

Paris, the city of love, where looking up will nearly always grant you a view of the famous Eiffel Tower. Now picture that iconic view with hundreds of flying houses and apartments around it, and you have entered the Laurent Chehere’s Paris. In his project Flying Houses, the artist suspends Parisian homes in the sky, decorating them with a multitude of references – from historic personalities to aesthetic elements – that inform the French capital’s soul today.

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Uniting the arts of cinema, photography and poetry, Laurent’s surreal collection of flying homes gives his audience a place to dream. Isolating the buildings from their natural, urban context and placing them in the sky, he changes their appearance with photomontages, delivering a host of details yet to be discovered by taking a closer look.

We took a trip to Paris’s imaginary skies and spoke to their creator.

THE PLUS: What is Flying Houses about?
Laurent Chehere:
Most of the houses no longer exist, but they all have something to tell us. Carrying with them their stories and references, these shaky structures capture so many surrealist and poetic visions inspired by Paris, Jules Verne, Hayao Miyazaki, Moebius, Bruce Davidson, Federico Fellini, William Klein, Marcel Carné, Ettore Scola, Jean Cocteau, Wim Wenders and many others. I question this world, with documentary, aesthetic or intimate concerns. I talk about the Paris that makes us dream, and the Paris that doesn’t.

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TP: Tell us about your thoughts behind these homes and their inhabitants.
Several ideas cohabit in these wandering castles: the idea of taking a house out of its context, out of the anonymity of the street to tell the story of the life, the dreams and the hopes of the people who live in it. The idea of resuscitating buildings of the past, giving them a second chance. And the idea of showing them in extra-large format, so that one can read them differently, depending on the distance from which one views them.

TP: How does this view change, depending on the distance?
From afar they seem to be free and carefree, but close-up the story is more complicated – like life itself. This chronicle of ordinary people is also a tribute to the cinema. My pictures are full of a variety of references, ranging from auteur films to blockbusters, from porn to B-movies, even a few horror films. You have to take the time to look.

TP: What do you like about surrealism?
Surrealism means imagination. Everything is possible, it’s a gate to your mind.

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TP: What is your process like in creating these images? 
First I make a draw of a flying house, then I go to shoot everything I need. It’s a photomontage of hundreds of elements like the roof, windows, gutters, fireplace, characters, antennas, graffiti and the sky, captured and assembled afterwards like a puzzle. In a gallery, the images are shown in large format and enable the curious observer to discover details and hidden references of these accurate reconstructions by proposing a double reading, one from far away and one from close up.

TP: How did you first get into photo editing?
I learned to use Photoshop when I was an art director at an advertising agency.

TP: What are your main sources of inspiration?
Cinema, photography, people, architecture and everything else around me.

TP: What can we expect from you in the future?
Future is present. A book has just been released on the occasion of ParisPhoto and a large retrospective exhibition at the Persiehl & Heine Gallery in Hamburg until January 19th, 2019. You can see the entire series on my website and order the book on

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