The project “The center of spare-time activities” stages models playing the role of tourists in a chosen scenery : commercial areas in suburban zones. It illustrates the current mutation of malls, especially in France, through absurd and derision.
These places aim at attracting more customers by providing spare-time activities. From the point of sale to a new way of life.
This mutation has started worldwide and result in discovering new places such as theaters, wave pools, ski trails, museums, etc. This is the new generation of shopping areas .
Over time, Benjamin Le Brun is very interesting by staging. He love to building a picture in the same way he could build a painting. He is inspired by Edward Hopper. He is impressed by the scenography of Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. They also guide him.
"The center of spare-time activities" 01 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 02 @Benjamin Le Brun
Q: Su Yuezhuo
A: Benjamin Le Brun
Su Yuezhuo: What is the reason you want to start this project?
Benjamin Le Brun: I am too an urban planner and naturally, I ask me questions about commercial areas. These areas are often natural areas that have been developed and are largely responsible for the transformation of the town centers. Nevertheless, the sustainability of these areas is not guaranteed and they must constantly adapt their strategy to keep their leadership. I wanted to talk about these new strategies and their impact on consumers.
Su Yuezhuo: Which soical issue you want to show to audiences from your project “The center of spare-time activities”can you give us more explain about “this mutation”that you mentioned from your word.
Benjamin Le Brun: The supermarket and malls have developed in France since the 1960s and have revolutionized trade. They changed the territory. Every small town had this trade in the 1990s. Then, Some actor of trade like "Hard discount" supermarkets spread out and changed buying habits by lowering prices again by creating their own labels. More recently, there have been the "Drive" that the French approve by a large majority. People order on the internet and they came look for the merchandise in a warehouse. Finally, the market leaders returned to the town center by buying most small stores.
"The center of spare-time activities" 03 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 04 @Benjamin Le Brun
In 2015, with the development of e-commerce, professionals had to renew the way they welcome their customers. Commercial areas were no considered as a source of stress and anxiety because the time spent in queues or in the car were important. Customers must leave happy, relaxed even if in the end they have consumed. In this way, the customers will make his purchases but then they will do a cultural or leisure activity such as surfing or discover a photographic exhibition in an art gallery. This model is global. China, Europe, the Maghreb countries and all of America are concerned. So, I decided at this moment to work around that event in the world of the mall and the supermarket.
"The center of spare-time activities" 05 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 06 @Benjamin Le Brun
Su Yuezhuo: How do you chose a character to play the role in your pic? And what relate between background and role that you chose. For example: some pic you chose a horse, a Mickey Mouse, a people is surfing and so on.
Benjamin Le Brun: I chose the models in my environment, my family, my friends. Nevertheless, I also place offers, in theaters, places where people know how to play comedy. I also organized meetings.
The choice of characters in a photos was made when I discovered the activities that could be deployed in the new malls. Because, in this new place, we can meet a surfer among customers doing their shopping. We can meet a lyrical singer or Mickey Mouse mascot among employees who go to work each morning. The idea that we go there to buy food or other products is over. In France, these places become the new town centers. After having been the suburbs of the cities, they become the center of the activities where each citizen come, they become the centers of spare-time activities.
"The center of spare-time activities" 07 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 08 @Benjamin Le Brun
Su Yuezhuo: Can you tell me, what you got is from Edward Hopper. And a scenography from Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson? What is same and different between yours and them.
Benjamin Le Brun: What I share with Edward Hopper is the intense light, that of a sky where clouds are often absent and the sun warms the face. This sun is intense in the South of France unlike other places where I’ve lived. The link could also be done by the choice of the color, I like the bright colors, the primary colors, the blue of the sky. So, this can be explained finally by the simplicity of the composition. I want to compose the image with with a minimum of things, accessorized as little as possible and can of element present on the image to lead the spectator to concentrate on the essential of the words of the image. The link with Hopper was done by showing the images, it was the spectators who made that link, it was not a deliberate intention at the beginning.
When I speak about Gregory Crewdson, I especially want to remember that a staging photos is a lot of work upstream of the triggering of the device: tracking, casting, searching for objects, coordination, the consultations of weather reports, hours spent with various interlocutors and a shooting that lasts only a few moments. The work of an artist like Gregory Crewdson tells me that shooting is only 10% of the energy used to compose an photo. Jeff Wall uses a complex method to create as well. Then, these artists are unique by the new look they could bring in photography each in their own way, I like the path they have drawn.
"The center of spare-time activities" 09 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 10 @Benjamin Le Brun
Su Yuezhuo: Which series you focus on recently? How you can extend this “The center of spare-time activities”project?
Benjamin Le Brun: Currently, I'm developing, a new series. I want to focus this time on a topic on medical developments and their impact on our societies. I have been working there for 6 months. There will always be color, light and a desire to share my questions as an artist about our society and the future that could be offered to us in twenty years. I am currently searching the first place and looking to mobilize partners for production. The realization of images will start in July to present it in early 2019 to the public and I hope very quickly in China.
"The center of spare-time activities" 11 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 12 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 13 @Benjamin Le Brun
"The center of spare-time activities" 14 @Benjamin Le Brun
Benjamin Le Brun was borned in France in 1981. He started photography when he finished his urban planning studies. Inspired by the town, He have realized projects linking architecture and staging. He handle several projects at once, from personal projects to photographic orders and his job as an urban planner. He is distributed by the agency SIPA PRESS.