In his time consuming work, which integrates photography and manga, Favrod explores the thin line between fiction and reality
What led you to photography initially, and what continues to make it the most relevant medium for your work?
My life changed completely in 2005. After studying Economics and working for two years in that field, I applied to ECAL (an art school in Switzerland). I was accepted into Industrial Design, but during a cross-over course in photography, Pierre Fantys, our professor, asked me to change majors and that’s how my journey in photography began.
Photography is still the starting point for my work and I guess it’ll always be relevant to an extent. At least for the foreseeable future...
Tell us a bit about your latest series, The Sound of the Black Waves.
I began Le son des vagues noires (The Sound of the Black Waves) in 2017. My life had changed a lot: I moved to Spain, got married and had a son, and my productivity dropped significantly. I was confused about how my work should evolve and how to make sense of myself in this new environment.
The project is about my new life here with my family, far from my comfort zone. It’s about shadows, mirrors and reflexion, archives, and food. Instead of creating works with specific meanings, I like to leave them open to different interpretations. It’s a kind of invitation for viewers to reimagine the everyday. To speak of a life, in any way, we have to enter into fiction. First, because a photograph can never capture the whole reality of a life; real life always exceeds even the most elaborate representations. But also, our ability to recognise and accept reality is limited. We prefer to substitute the real for the imaginary. My research has led to a narrative that sits on a strange line, oscillating between reality and fiction. It’s not a specific narrative, but one that arises naturally from the images.
The title comes from one of my first memories of living in Spain. Our apartment is near the ocean and what really struck me is that, during the night, the sound of the waves just covers everything.
Your combination of manga and photography is incredibly intriguing. What inspired you to draw and paint over your photographs?
I’ve always been fascinated by manga and anime (Japanese comics and animated movies). Anything can happen in these mediums. They create another world with its own set of rules, quite separate from those governing our day-to-day lives. This reality is completely surreal but, as readers and viewers, we accept it. I’m also fascinated by the fact it’s been manufactured, made intentionally, not captured or found. You can’t just go into the street and take pictures. When it’s manga or painting, all those creative decisions have been made.
How would you describe your process?
I start by sketching an idea and sometimes it’s a few years before I produce it. The idea continues to grow, making its own path and transforming until I understand why I have to make it.
For example, with La chute, I started digging the hole in October 2017 and after a week or so, I took the photograph. By November, the negative was scanned and ready to work on. I zoomed in to about 500% to draw each blade of grass, getting totally lost in the image. It took me around 2500 hours to complete, but not all images are so time consuming, it depends on the complexity of the drawing.
How do you know when an image is finished?
Usually, the image is finished when it’s printed. Otherwise, I could always change or add something… it could be infinite. Having deadlines, like shows, helps me say, ‘Ok, this work is done.’
Text by Ish Doney, Unseen Platform