The Reality-Bending, Topsy-Turvy World of Philippe Ramette
Philippe Ramette has people in Taman Menteng tilting their heads to all angles to comprehend his gravity-defying photographs, or pondering whether the whole thing has been carefully Photoshopped.
My eyes dart from a photograph to the explanation below it and back to the image. I’m in disbelief that this Frenchman could sit upright while hanging free with just his legs resting on a pillar. I won’t try this at home, I thought.
These carefully planned, surreal photographs are self-portraits of Ramette, a French conceptual sculptor and photographer. He collaborated with photographer Marc Domage to capture images of himself in a series of gravity-defying situations, all while staying composed in a suit.
At first glance, Ramette’s photographs look irrational, as if they clearly went through a series of Photoshop manipulations. It turns out that Ramette, staying true to his identity as a sculptor, steers clear of digital editing and uses his “sculptor structures” to create the simple illusions.
In one of the photographs titled “Balcony 2,” Ramette looks to the horizon of Hong Kong while standing on a balcony. Everything looks normal, except that the balcony floats on the surface of an ocean. In another image, he sits upright on a stone wall, contemplating the scenery behind him — or below him, you decide.
He went to the trouble of being photographed underwater. Map in hand, he might be lost but he is wearing his suit and strolling along nonchalantly. Titled “Rational Exploration of the Undersea,” the image is a great example of Ramette’s dedication to the impossible image. The artist used weights to keep himself level on the seabed.
What is not visible in the images are the instruments he uses for support. With metal rings and poles to hold his ankles and shins in place, Ramette can effortlessly walk on water, up tree trunks, or even perform handstands on cliffs.
The exhibition, “Le Monde Sens Dessus Dessous de Philippe Ramette” (“The Upside Down World of Philippe Ramette”), showcases the artist’s efforts to explore the relationship between humans and their surrounding landscapes. The exhibit is part of the annual French cultural festival, Le Printemps Francais.
Born in 1960, Ramette was originally a sculptor before moving on to other media. He started experimenting with photography while using himself as the model.
Ramette’s mind-bending images are on display in Taman Menteng, Central Jakarta, until Saturday.