There's a particularly strange, dark, folkloric style of European photography that's been swirling around for the last few years. Photographers like David Favrod, Anne Golaz, Tarik Hayward and Augustin Rebetez have been exploring the myths, origins and rituals of the countryside, often creating unexpectedly sinister imagery; a counterpoint to the bright, bustling everyday life. French photographer Thomas Rousset joins this group, blurring the line between documentary work and constructed fantasies with his fascinating images. He's an alumnus of ECAL in Lausanne who consistently hone really interesting young talent; its always a fascinating college to watch.
Here are two of Rousset's recent series: firstly 'Praberians' which looks at a fictional rural French community where actual inhabitants of the village Rousset grew up in appear in his weird dioramas. A hybrid car-cart sits on a dusty county road; trussed or restrained animals await their fate, be it good or bad; locals young and old are absorbed in strange rituals and reveries, some meticulously painting stones, other torching an old car in the woods. The photographs are beautifully composed and lit, imbuing these odd scenes with a sense of serenity. Describing his approach to the shots, Rousset says "My photos are the end result of a long creation process: finding the perfect spot for the staging, setting up the scenery and constructing sets and props, and working with the characters. I build my image like a game where my imagination takes shape gradually. I start by taking a photo in the simplest and most uncluttered way possible and then I add elements to get the perfect picture, the one truest to what I imagined".
The second series shown here is 'Waska Tatay', created in collaboration with Raphael Verona. Using the same approach as with 'Praberians', Rousset has built images based around the myths and magical beliefs of the people of the Altiplano region of Bolivia, a superstitious place indeed. Similar themes are explored but with the wild headdresses of the region and the alien setting, this series is perhaps even darker and more riveting.