Pascal Liénard Investigates Religious Heritage in Rural World

Pascal Liénard is a photographer living in Belgium in a natural park called the Land of The Hills (Pays des Collines), Picardy Wallonia. This wide preserved plain, very green, rural and agricultural allows him to feel this little loneliness he is looking for. On the other hand, it is close enough to the capital, which helps him professionally, since Pascal works as freelance graphic designer. We’ll take a look at his series Passer Son Ciel, captured in his area.

How did you get interested in photography and why did you pick photography as a medium and form of expression?
I studied in an Academy of Fine-Arts and photography was part of the instruction. At that time, I was not that much interested in photography. I was looking for something more physical, a pen, a brush, paint.

With the time my interest for photography grown, and it became a balance with my graphic designer professional approach where I am in control of every aspects. I can control the layout, the colour, the size, the rhythm. With photography I like the opposite, as I am interested in the reality and I like it quite raw, quite un-retouched, flat, frontal. I like when everything line-up in a way I did not expected. But I take control where I can : I like to compose my images with a small detail, a framing, an element, an object, something quite contradictory with the quietness, the stillness, the silence of the image, something in balance, discreet, like a mistake, something against the perfection.

The title of your series Passer Son Ciel (Passing His Sky) refers to a text written on a Chapel. Gathering these small religious edifice in rural environment, you put a glance on the impact of a historical heritage in these landscapes. Tell us more about this project, what did you learn?
It’s a series I worked on some years, it’s a series about rurality, the profane and the sacred. About the way they shaped the landscape and our perception.

It’s in a small space between the highlighting of dualities and the observation that I envisaged the creation of this sequence of images, I tried to place a distancing glance between an historical heritage and things to come, between a moving rurality and the cycles of the elements, between the sacred and the profane.

“A walk on a path where the past is dissolving in the present.”

The project was done in my near, local environment by confronting what I had under my eyes and the context was born with the relation between the tradition, the relation with the religious heritage, the “now” and the future of a rural world.

Although all images where taken close to where I live, I am not looking to describe the specificity of a territory: I am looking more for the remanence of a landscape of yesterday, small traces still visible that get unnoticed, it is a silent oscillation, a walk on a path where the past is dissolving in the present. Chapels -small popular religious buildings- punctuate a landscape shaped by agricultural work, crops, and houses development with their (often) white architectural form, or I should say archetypal. Their presence is acquired, common, but yet they appear to be placed by inadvertence, by force, into the landscape just like other elements, profane, agricultural, agri-cultural.

Learning from the Greek countryside with Kostas Kapsianis.

I like to reduce them to a formal entity and exchanging with other formal entities, highlighting the fact that we give values. These dualities tend to underline the relationship to the places and values of a rurality that seems to be letting go of its time. A short space where we can feel a frozen temporality, in a setting yet to become. 

Enjoy Pascal’s photographs on his website.

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