Florent Tanet is a name you may recognise from the beginnings of his career as an art director at Lacoste, the winner of the PDN Emerging Talent Award, or his photographic commissions for the likes of The New Yorker, Vogue or Chanel and Issey Miyake. But we know Florent as a photographer of an unlikely subject: aquariums.
Working together with set designer Eli Serres – whose list of clients is equally impressive including Hermes, Dazed, Buffalo and Acne studios – the pair originally met on set for a commercial project a few years back. Working together instinctively ever since, Eli and Florent now use their similar creative inclination to create personal passion projects “following our ideas or objects that Eli can find,” and building projects “little by little over rather long periods”.
An over-arching theme for their work is to visually explore “the link between the object and people’s hobbies,” looking for that moment where it creates often “extravagant or absurd situations,” Florent tells It’s Nice That. It was when exploring this concept that the two decided to make a series about aquariums, shedding light on how it’s a hobby that sees its fans meticulously building underwater worlds to proudly display atop cabinets. As Florent tells us, it’s a hobby that can even be an “excessive passion” but it’s also relatable, as “almost everyone has had a small aquarium at home”.
In sitting comfortably between being a highly specialised but visually recognisable subject, the pair wanted to photograph a series which presents the “poetic and absurd” quality of aquariums. The result, Aquarium Hobby does so with little nods of aquarium references such as creating a still life display of ceramic sea objects (but leaving out the tank), or creating a classic fish bowl landscape out of household objects. They’ve even expanded the series to include the odd bird or hamster cage too.
In its execution, Aquarium Hobby is a smile-inducing series creatively looking at the slightly absurd world of aquarium building hobbyists. “It’s both a world that people have the feeling of knowing and at the same time it’s something they discover,” Florent concludes. But the joy of the series is simply its ability to allow viewers “to rediscover something they knew when they were kids”.
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