Tell us about Wonderful World, and the Trilogy of the Moderns that it's part of.
Wonderful World is the last part of The Trilogy of the Moderns which talks about the infantilisation of the society. The series paints a picture of a confused humanity, groping blindly in the darkness, obsessed with the cult of celebrity and guided only by an absolute desire for generalised, prescribed happiness. As well as looking at ideas of total happiness, the works are the vision of an arrogant world that wants to impose its vision of humanity, by brutally imposing its choices, its democratic models and its business.
Salom au pays des merveilles
You're auditioning the public to take part in the final shot of the series. What are you looking for when you're auditioning?
As usual, I'm looking for REAL people, I mean people who are involved in the project of the photography. Everyone that comes to the gallery over the weekend of 9th and 10th June will have their photograph taken and then I will look at all of them together and see who fits most into this world I’m creating. It’s very exciting to be shooting the final work in London and be giving Londoners a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of art history.
Dany Ramos, Wolf Man
Why did you move from working for an agency (Sygma) to freelance, and then to art photography?
"Everything changes and nothing changes!" To me, there is no difference, no hierarchy. I watch the world with an ‘awake’ look and I see my contemporaries agitated in the same way. It is only peoples’ attitudes that are changing over the different spheres. It’s not different to working with an agency to in fine art. My attitude is the same.
During your time as a press photographer, has there ever been a shot you've missed? What was it?
Throughout all my time working, I learned more than I missed so it really does not seem that I have missed anything and, on the contrary, my experiences have boosted my lucidity. Over time, I have become less naïve and less deceived.
Decadence (see large version here)
How was it shooting Decadence? Tell us about the process.
It was not easy at all. Decadence itself was three months of work. We had to create an extraordinary setting using a team of 80 people. There were 30 models on the set and that photograph was created using a single shot! It was heavy work and a big challenge and risk for us.
La Liberte Devoilee
The Last Supper is a subject which many artists and even photographers have tackled. What did you want to focus on with your obese apostles (in The Big Supper - see top image)?
The obese apostles are a metaphor for a world being upset with too much excess. I’m not artistically trying to outdo Leonardo da Vinci. 2000 years ago at the Last Supper of Christ guests shared bread and water around the table but nowadays junk food has invaded our tables, with obscene and dangerous quantities forgetting the unifying rite of the table - what progress for humanity! We can only hope that this is just a temporary slip!
You took a portrait of Hosni Mubarak for which 5,000 soldiers cleaned up rocks in front of a pyramid to set up the shot. What's the weirdest situation you've found yourself when setting up a photograph?
At first, I was totally scared and then it made me laugh at the power of the photographer! For a few moments, the photographer can control presidents, dictators and religious leaders. It is not easy to capture the image of someone and to be able to project them into a small eternity. As well as this, the sand blocked my camera. I was in a total panic but, thanks to my experience, I was able to find an experience in a short time. I shot the picture – just once – and I captured the image. I saved the photo!
Gérard Rancinan's Wonderful World will be showing at the Londonewcastle Project Space, E2 7DP until 24th June. For more of Rancinan's work, visit rancinan.com