Jean-Luc Mylayne’s methods are deliberate and unique. The self-taught photographer and philosopher begins each of his photographs by selecting a particular landscape and embedding himself within it alongside his wife and collaborator Mylène. Blurring the distinction between artist and ornithologist, Mylayne sits patiently, often for months at a time, studying and observing the native birds until they began to feel at ease with his presence. Mylayne asserts that each bird whose image he captures didn’t merely consent to the picture, but actually posed for a portrait. The titles of his works indicate the length of time for which Mylayne sat in wait in order to photograph his chosen bird, such as the Phainopepla bird at Fort Davis, Texas, in No. 435, for which he waited from December 2007 through January 2008.
Mylayne feels strongly that his work is not scientific. Despite the practical similarities, his images are not intended as ornithological studies; rather, they are studies not only of birds, but of human nature as well. “[It] is an exploration,” says Mylayne, “a way to try and to know ourselves, what we do and why we do it, through the bird.”
Photo Copyright Jean-Luc Mylayne; Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory