Scarred Ground – Sophie Ristelhueber

In her FOTO8 interview (11/08/2009) French photographer Ristelhueber comments on how her practice has moved in the direction of ‘scars’ and ‘traces’, ranging from freshly operated bodies inspired by the Yugoslavian civil war to aerial shots of post conflict Kuwait. Bringing her sensibility to a range of traumatic subjects she works conceptually seeing them all with a type of conceptual ambiguity and evenness despite their political context.


Fait No. 67.

“I am a conceptual person, which means that first I have an idea of something I want to do… something that becomes imperative. Afterwards I work so intently that I don’t think any more about the context. About whether I am in a country that is supposed to be Palestine, say, but which perhaps is not going to be Palestine. It’s difficult for others to understand; it’s not that I don’t care for the people around me. But once I’m working, I am working on my concept” (FOTO8 interview).

Every One

from Every One (1994)


Sophie Ristelhueber, Vue du stand de la Galerie Jérôme Poggi – Paris Photo 2013

“I think it’s my very modest way to fight against the way everything is done and presented nowadays as a kind of ‘grand spectacle’ – you know, a big show. Or everything is always explained to you: what you have to see, and what you have to understand. I really like to give freedom to the viewer to interpret the work, to make his own story. I often dislike the way exhibitions can make everything obvious and regular and I prefer complex installations where things are not clear at first sight.” (FOTO8 interview).

Ristelhueber won the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize in 2010. She notes: ‘Nowadays I am not even a photographer because I am a conceptual artist.’

For more on Ristelhueber see the essays in American Suburb X by Marc Mayer or Bruno Vandermeulen and Danny Veys  or the writing by Stephen Dewyer.

Also view the videos on Vimeo at the time of her large exhibition in Paris at the Museum of Le Jeu de Paume.


Arménie, 1989. Tirages couleur argentique 50 x 60 cm. Détail.


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