Alain Delorme


Alain Delorme, a French photographer, born in 1979, never ceases in making us doubt. Whether with his first successful series Little Dolls (2007), his second series Totems (2010), or his most recent series Murmurations (2014-15), the spectator is always left wondering where the truth ends and where  fiction begins. Alain Delorme manages to lure his viewers into reflecting upon a wide variety of current topics, debating via his works. As you can see by close inspection, the photos are quite deceiving and do not depict a flock of starling birds in formation but are actually built up of 100.000 plastic bags! With this project he challenges environmental issues as over-use of plastics.


On “Murmurations” by By Raphaële Bertho:

A distant rustle, puffs of air: a swarm forms and rises in the breeze, drawing elegant arabesques in a sky full of shimmering reflections of light. At first, the works of Alain Delorme capture the magic of the first fleeting beauty of a flock of birds, a Murmuration. However, this initial charm soon vanishes when the viewer takes a closer look, notices the clever deception, and discovers what is really behind the graceful flocks, the sometimes aquatic, sometimes calligraphic shapes: thousands of plastic bags, meticulously arranged by the artist, their massive presence threatening to asphyxiate the horizon.
This work is located at the crossroads between various visual cultures and diverse artistic heritage, primarily cinematic: Murmuration seems like an improbable blend of the sight of the plastic bag which in American Beauty (1999) swirls around almost hypnotically, and the vision of The Birds in Hitchcock’s great classic from 1963. Both play with the reversal of perspective: the Master of Fear builds his plot on the inexplicable aggression of actually harmless animals, while the scene captured by the amateur filmmaker seems to unveil the beauty and delicacy of an otherwise ungainly object.
More generally, Delorme’s digital creations echo land art installations –presenting natural spaces that have been physically transformed in order to question their fate and vulnerability. Finally, in this work, Delorme revisits accumulation; a recurrent theme of the New Realists also leveraged in Delorme’s previous series- using absurdity to bring attention to the excesses of modern society.
By choosing such a common and universal artifact, the commentary takes on a global relevance. The context of the images is only hinted at, without explicit geographic positioning. The outline of our proud industrial societies, factory chimneys and power lines stand out as shadows playing against a sky that is bathed in a twilight that seems to announce the end of an era. Because the plastic bag poses a truly universal threat: it invades urban surroundings, litters natural habitats, paves seabed, and takes over deserts.
Through this “trompe l’oeil,” Alain Delorme steps away from any militant position, favoring the process of gradual awareness. He cuts out, assembles and arranges the elements of both a fictional and probable reality into one image that projects the sunsets of our tomorrow. Looking towards the sky, one may recall the title of the famous 1975 photo exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, an exhibit that led us to question the future of industrial society. With this in mind, one could modify the title of the current show to Man-Altered “Sky” scape. When the artist contaminates our dreams…


“Little dolls”, the series that launched his career by earning him the 2007 Arcimboldo 1st prize, depicts little girls, with almost scarily perfect, womanly faces, standing behind just as pristine party cakes. This physical hybridization hides the more serious one of children’s status in society. Whether one gives the example of children actors sometimes being pushed to their limits or beauty competitions for little girls, children are slowly losing right to their childhood and innocence and being asked, as underline the menacing hands present on each photo, to grow into adults or standardized Barbie lolitas.


“Totems”, though covering entirely different topics, shares with “Little dolls” its bright comic book colors and shapes, and can you believe it? effect. The photos were taken in the streets of Shanghai, on the occasion of two residencies there financed by the Ailing foundation. The viewer is immerged into a world of exaggerated accumulation, of both everyday objects and towering buildings, an accumulation that has rendered society a slave to the objects it has itself created. Yet, despite the omnipresence of material goods, Alain Delorme does not neglect individuals in his photos, quite on the contrary he focuses on them, their facial expressions, their activity, he has taken them out of the usual crowds we tend to imagine them lost in, in China. Finally, Alain has captured the physical, city translation of the economic growth Shanghai is presently undergoing, in the skyscrapers shooting up in the background, whilst not forgetting to qualify its success with the walls separating a large part of the population from it.



2013   Nomination Prix Pictet “Consumption” (Totems)
2007   Prix Arcimboldo, Gens d’Image, Paris, France.