My name is Mina Albespy, I am 22 years old and I am half French and half Japanese. Although I grew up in the French Alps, I spent every summer of my childhood in Japan, which has had a great influence on my artistic practice and the themes that I approach today.
Living in the countryside between fields, mountains and alpine pastures, I developed a particular interest in landscape and its representation. Instinctively, it is through photography that I tried to take part in these great spaces. At the age of 18, I went to study photography for four years at ECAL/Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne in Switzerland.
Very quickly, my interest turned more to what was happening on the other side of the camera than to the shooting itself.
In a completely unconscious way at that time, I remember spending hours manually reconstructing landscapes that had marked my childhood and then re-photographing them afterwards. I would make models up to three meters long in my room from cardboard, paper and paint.
Two years ago, I traveled to Japan, notably to return to the Kyoto gardens which have been the subject of my numerous visits since I was little.
As a child, the meaning of these gardens escaped me. However, I was deeply marked by their mysterious calm and the invisible force that made them radiate in silence. Even today, the feeling that runs through me every time I look at them remains the same. Whether in rainy weather or in intense heat, what I like to call the soul of these gardens always leads me to that same state of perfect satisfaction that I find difficult to put into words.
Empty and silent, these gardens are often nothing more than simple expanses of gravel with rocks and moss on either side of the enclosure. They tell non tales and yet they are heavy with a potential meaning that goes far beyond what is physically present, something impalpable and obscured by what is shown. It is a place where emptiness stimulates our imagination, where rocks become mountains and gravel becomes an ocean. It is in the emptiness of these gardens that I saw the French mountains of my childhood.
By appropriating the concepts of the Zen garden, I began a long work of formal and colorimetric research echoing the alpine pasture on which I grew up and the Japanese print. From the void, forms were born that I sculpted, painted, then photographed in a personal garden where sometimes, the full forms dialogue with the counter forms, taking up the idea that a stone is defined by its material but also by the space that creates it. After this long process of work, comes that crucial moment when everything comes to life, this moment when through the photographic act I immortalize this ephemeral scene where the space of a moment, reality and fiction become one.
At a time when we let ourselves be carried away by the tyranny of speed, it is more and more difficult for us to slow down, to observe and to be satisfied with the landscapes that have marked the rhythm of our childhood. As Isamu Noguchi, a famous Japanese- American sculptor once said : « We are a landscape of all we have seen ».
Perhaps we should slow down to finally contemplate the landscape that we are to invent something new for ourselves, and therefore for the world.
DR / Mina Albespy
IG / Mina Albespy