These Landscapes Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Montreal-based photographer Francois Ollivier’s recent series, Memory Lapses nods at the intersection between photography, land art and installation art. Using reflective material to overexpose lines within the image, Francois creates “empty zones” of seemingly overexposed data.


Francois’s work is predominantly in documentary photography, but for has also engaged with this specific type of cutting-edge art photography along the way. His work reminds us that while we live in a state of constantly evaporating memories, we are still free to explore the sites in which our memories have been made. But be warned, reality can be deceptive.


We tracked the travelling photographer down to quiz him on his art.

THE PLUS: What equipment do you use?
Francois Ollivier:
A full frame camera, 24-70 mm lens, hot shoe flash, but overall nothing crazy – I could have done the same thing with virtually any equipment.


TP: Where were these images made?
Québec and Montréal (where I live), South of France (where I grew up and where my parents live), Bretagne (where my girlfriend is from) and Algarve (where my sister lives with her 3 kids). All locations are linked to personal emotions, love, family, childhood, present

TP: What material did you use for the overexposed sections?
The reflective material is the same as you’d see on a high-visibility jacket. I wrapped it around various things, such as plastic pipes, trees and toys.


TP: What do you like about shooting when the light is fairly low?
Shooting at this specific time of day, I could see the effect of the flash without lighting all the scene with it. Everything looks more dramatic, more cinematographic. Shooting at this time is a great way to revisit what we think we already know, also more simply, I like to work with the colour palette that low light provides.

TP: What got you interested in exploring memory?
Different things. In Memory Lapses, the notion of memory is paired with distance. I live far from my family and the places I love, such as the sea. This creates nostalgia. It is therefore extremely important to keep certain memories alive in my mind. Also, I am obsessed with time, and making memories does not get any easier as we get older. Events accumulate, but our total memory does not take everything along with it. I am attached to places, smells, and what is happening in particular places, and I think the memory angle was a good way for me to declare love to the people around me, telling them that they matter, and that I want to be closer to them.


TP: You seem to like playing with the perception of reality. Is that for any particular reason?
It’s linked with the memory aspect. But also, what is reality in a photograph? It’s already a reality through the prism of my vision. Your reality would be different in the same conditions.
Memory changes our reality, it can be good and sometimes it fails us – memory can be a friend and an enemy. The installations disturb what you see at first but then the more you look at the image, the more their presence is natural.