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  • ‘Non Fiction’ by Henri Kisielewski

    Henri Kisielewski (b. 1991) is a self-taught French/British photographer based in London. His work explores themes of memory, representation and the porous boundary between fact and fiction. Informed by studies in Human Geography and a deep engagement with the photographic medium, his work lies at the intersection of real world issues and the ways in which they are represented.

    “To give truth the colour and narrative force of fiction,” this was Truman Capote’s ambition when he wrote ‘In Cold Blood’, the true account of a quadruple homicide in 1960s Kansas. It is the starting point for Non Fiction, a work of lyrical documentary that explores the porous boundary between fact and fiction in photography. Since its beginnings, photography has had a complex relation to truth: even the most ‘objective’ portraits will necessarily involve decisions relating to location, light and pose. In Non Fiction, this tension is pushed to its extreme through a variety of visual strategies e.g. staging, off-camera flash, subverting cinematic clichés. Images based on rumours, local news stories and chance encounters accumulate and coalesce, to form a narrative that is fluid and multidirectional.

    Framed in this way, daily life is transformed: every window hides secrets, every person becomes a protagonist, every object becomes a clue or a piece of evidence. It’s all real, it’s all fake, but one thing is certain: fact is at least as strange as fiction. In the current context, where the boundary between what is real and what isn’t is increasingly ambiguous (e.g. fake news, alternative facts, infotainment, AI generated imagery…), it seems more pertinent than ever to reflect on our relation to reality and how this is mediated through images.

    Non Fiction is in some ways quite traditional – straight photography – but it has an underlying playfulness. When it came to exhibiting the work, hoping to extend the tension between truth and fiction beyond the museum walls, I transformed one of the photos – “Magic”, a black and white image of a dove – into a poster that announced “Lost Dove, reward…,”. The night before the opening, we went out and posted this all over the city, hundreds of copies, in shops, bus stops, on lampposts… A huge print of the image was also pasted on top of a diving board that overlooks the town. The project was made across Normandy in 2022 during an extended residency organised by the Planches Contact photography festival in Deauville, France.


    More on his website