June 11, 2021
Photography and story by Fanny Genoux
Introduction by Melanie Meggs
As we look out onto the calming blue of the Mediterranean Sea, one can’t help but be mesmerized by its beauty. It is a landscape that has been captured in countless photographs over the years, but French photographer Fanny Genoux has found a way to approach it with a unique perspective. Her deep interest in humans and their effects on the environment leads her to discover traces of their presence in cities, material, color, and constructions.
Fanny’s photographs sublimate reality by revealing unexpected poetry. In her current project OFF SEASON, she focuses on the quiet but evanescent concrete beaches of Nice from an aerial view. Her lens brings to light geometry, silhouettes, shadows, and traces that were previously unseen to the casual onlooker. In her work, she captures the subtle nuances that are often overlooked.
Fanny’s passion for photography is evident in her work. She has a special eye for capturing the atmosphere of the places she visits and a deep understanding of how humans interact with their environment. By taking us on a journey through her photographs, Fanny Genoux invites us to take a closer look at the beauty of these often overlooked places and explore the relationships between humans and their environment.
I’ve always liked watching from above, looking over.
The high-angle shot, flattens the perspectives and gives the impression of a world in miniature. An elaborate graphic arrangement is something I try to achieve in my photographs. While taking a walk, I quite naturally try and gain height in order to watch what’s going on below.
The Promenade des Anglais overlooking the beaches offers an interesting viewpoint. The city of Nice is famous for its shingle beaches that stretch for several miles from the old town in the East to the airport in the West. The Promenade des Anglais runs alongside and overlooks these beaches; this walk got its name from the English who chose the Baie des Anges as their favourite winter holiday resort in the nineteenth century. They loved the winter balminess of the Riviera which Nice residents still enjoy.
Summer’s heat is sweltering and the city is swamped: as vast as the beaches may be, no shingle is left to be seen. Nice residents make themselves scarce. Yet when the high season ends, the Promenade empties of strollers and so do the beaches. The private beaches’ structures are dismantled leaving behind empty, bleak sections of exposed concrete and the regulars may take over to enjoy spring or autumn’s balmy sun, and the gentle light.
Nice’s Eastern beaches, la Paillole, les bains Militaires, la Réserve and Coco-Beach, are very popular among the residents. They’ve been going there to bathe for ages. Spending time there is an ancient local tradition. These beaches are part of the local heritage and the regulars meet there all year round. On one’s own or with others, to sunbathe, read, drink a coffee, have a bite, or even play the piano! From one season to the next, recognizing their bathing suit or their towel, I’ve been able to watch the same people set up there. These photos tell the story of a part of the local and discreet history, nowhere near the French Riviera’s clichés.
During several off-seasons (from October to April), I’ve been especially observing two interesting spots.
One is located at the far end of the Promenade, right before Rauba Capeu (a small headland whose name means 'Hat Snatcher') where the Castel’s private beach is settled during the high season; once it’s dismantled, the large concrete slabs left there are much appreciated by the inhabitants of Nice.
The other 'beach'; is situated just before the port, under the embankment, where the now underwater Paillole beach used to be. Large blocks of concrete support the embankment on which the regulars never get tired to stretch out.
I enjoy watching from above these persons going about their business on these concrete beaches. The framing shows them isolated against a concrete background. The light is overwhelming, ever-present. In their swimsuits, they stand out against these backgrounds that change from grey to ochre according to the light. Or do they disappear in this background?
There’s a dual contrast: between the bright and saturated colours of the persons and the concrete’s colour on the one hand; and between this grey, rough, hard background and the almost naked bodies’ frailty on the other hand.
The reading of these photographs cannot be straightforward, it is equivocal. On watching it, one may get confused before understanding what they’re watching: are we facing a wall? Are the persons following on from the background? Do they take over this background or are they engulfed by it?
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