Since we last heard from French photographer Hubert Crabières, rest assured he’s been keeping busy. A keen advocate of flash plus a wild use of props and staging, we were instantly impressed by his previous works for Edicola magazine – a flat-pack depiction of a family celebrating their time together. After publishing this series, not only did he continue to make his outlandishly experimental editorial projects through his independent French-Korean publishing house ces editions, he also went on to win the American Vintage Prize for the 34th Festival of Fashion. He's also had the opportunity to work with the Villa Naoilles on several occasions – an experience which he marks as “incredible” for the people he’d met there.
This time around, he’s back with yet another marvel. Having got to grips with certain aspects of his practice over the past year, he's paved the way for something even more exciting. So, we present to you Hubert’s lockdown series.
“I started this costume project a little by accident,” he tells It’s Nice That. As many have experienced, thinking up things to do during lockdown has been in some ways liberating, in some cases draining. For Hubert, the concept for the shoot simply started as a joke with his housemates, one that saw him imagine a “protective” costume. “The next day when I woke up," he tell us, "I had spent the night thinking about this outfit but an improved version, and I started to work on it again. Then, I told myself that with everything I had at home, it would be a lot of fun to challenge myself to make one costume a day. I had to tidy up the home, as my collections of fabrics and accessories had become a bit chaotic. So this was the opportunity to do it.”
The result is a fascinating take on past projects, whereby Hubert has gathered together pieces from his previous shoots – the objects, materials, clothing and fabrics – in order to give them new life in this quarantine series. Presented in a series of diptychs featuring new pieces on the left and old pieces on the right, the series questions just how much stuff the photographer has (or hoarded) in his house.
He lives with friends in the suburbs of Paris in an old sncf building (the train company of France) which has been converted into lofts. It’s a large space that gives him much space to work, enabling his collecting personality to thrive. “My images seek to confront the context of staged photography with the context of domestic environment,” he continues to explain. “I like the confrontation, the harmony or the tensions between these two spaces.”
While developing the backbone to this visual story, he started by looking at each collection. “For various reasons, a certain type of object begins to fascinate me and pushes me to collect it,” adds Hubert. “It’s quite frantic and for a few days, weeks or months, I am obsessed by this object until a new one comes to replace it.” Second hand shops and sale sites, or nearby markets and rubbish bins are where he finds his resources. So, as you can imagine, after six years of living in his space he has accumulated quite the array of objects: be it fabrics, miniatures, sequins, fireworks, balloons, dolls, large rolls of vinyl paper and costume jewellery.
With each day of confinement, Hubert was able to fully delve into this project undisturbed. Although his housemates would help out when costumes were too heavy to wear or assemble, he would most likely create costumes that he could wear in their entirety. Some, of course, weren’t able to be shot in one take and needed to be created in two parts, before being assembled together photographically. “For other looks, I pushed this technique a little more – like the bubbles or the smokes dress, for example – because I didn’t have the technical tools to make them in one shot.” Sometimes, there can even be compilations of 10 different photos in one image.
Hubert's latest series signifies what it's like to be a creative amongst the endless days of idle play – or in this case, boredom. “The main goal of this project was to occupy my days in a fun way, while taking stock of everything that I had accumulated over the years,” he tells us. And what better way of clearing out your home than by turning it into a photographic series like this one?
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.