Zoom in. The camera rests low on the back of a man who is holding a cigarette in his hand. What do we know about this scene? The man seems decently dressed, with his striped shirt neatly tucked into his marine trousers. His leather watch and golden wedding ring suggest a traditional domestic life. Let’s say he’s in his fifties. We have a notion about our protagonist, but what is happening here? His hand is holding a burning cigarette, probably a Winston, in a protective and shielding gesture. The bright sun is beaming, so he is definitely not sheltering his cigarette from the rain. Is he hiding it from sight, as if he doesn’t want to be caught smoking? Or is it the sand-like substance on his hand that no one is supposed to see, as if this could give away the crime that preceded this scene?
In Domestic Flight, the viewer is not confronted with traces of what has been. Rather, each scene allows us a glimpse into the action of the story Camille Picquot is unfolding. Released of its burden of proof, photography can now fully be applied to its new purpose: to visually narrate and suggest a fictional story. In her artistic work, Picquot is equally at ease with photography as she is with film. Applying and mixing common practices of these media, she never places one above the other, but rather reinforces them both. In Domestic Flight, Picquot does not shy away from adding a playful cameo of herself in the series, possibly hinting at Hitchcock’s famous appearances.
The photographic language is apprehensible: it seduces through clear compositions, contrasting colors and vivid details. But there is always something amiss, an unusual viewpoint or a distressing detail, converting it into a disquieting scene. The images become enigmatic without falling into the trap of closing themselves off from the viewer. Instead, they invite a sharp reading and dissection. They give away as much as they conceal.
Rein Deslé, curator & editor FOMU (Fotomuseum) Antwerp.