Audrey Marquis is a Quebec-based visual artist, whose deeply absorbing cinematic photography, transports us into an alternate world.
Though she possessed an interest in film and photography from an early age, by her own admission, she was rarely concerned with aesthetics, simply regarding the camera as a tool to document her surroundings.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, when she acquired a new phone with a high-quality camera and used it to narrate her subsequent travels around Kenya and India, that she began to focus more intently on her practice.
“From that moment on, photography became the center of my life. It offers me the creative outlet that I always needed and tried in the past to express through music or drawing, but wasn’t completely satisfied with. In short, photography makes me happy.”
For some practitioners, image-making is simply about the photograph, the manifestation of the decisive moment, when all elements converge perfectly within a frame. For others, however, the clicking of the shutter is but a small part of a larger process that transforms worldly scenes into something surreal, dreamy, and profound. Such is the case for Marquis, whose deeply absorbing images are largely the result of carefully-constructed scenes and creative post-production.
Her approach was forged during the pandemic. At the time, she was living in Germany and began acquiring props, including, items of clothing and a traditional gas lantern, which she would use to create staged scenes with friends and family members inspired by her interests in cinema.
“…it is clear that we are all influenced by everything we see – in my case, I have always been attracted to western, mystery and horror movies, and old historical houses and cars since a young age, so I guess those interests have a big impact on my work.”
In her series, Western Noir, the gun-wielding, Stetson-wearing protagonist, navigates the rooms of a dimly-lit house, whilst in Royal Motel Under Investigation, a weary detective clad in similar garb, searches for clues among the gloomy, dust-laden corners of a ramshackle guest house somewhere in the North American wilds.
Permeated with a palpable sense of drama, imbued with film noir references and Lynchian undertones, her imagery grips the imagination, galvanizing a sense of trepidation, informed by our own past experiences of cinema.
However, on occasion, she also works more intuitively. In her series, Tiny Houses, created during the formative months of the global pandemic, she captured rural German dwellings, the glow from their windows emblematizing the housebound residents.
“Back then, I had just started photography and got my first camera, and I was interested in capturing people in everyday life scenes, but as this wasn’t possible anymore, I would just walk around my neighborhood and click the only available subject: houses. That’s also when my editing style started to go in the direction of what it is today – because I couldn’t vehicular emotions through the humans in my pictures, I had to find a way to make those houses more interesting and that’s how I started to learn a lot about color grading and discover editing techniques.”
Inspired, in part, by the work of contemporary, Henri Prestes, and American photographer Gregory Crewdson, her creative approach to editing renders these relatively innocuous scenes into captivating images, imbued with a dream-like, at times, even nightmarish ambiance, and the same sense of drama to her more ‘orchestrated’ offerings. Likewise, her follow-up series, Painted by the rain, in which she transforms similarly mundane scenes into gripping compositions, washed in a dusky deluge.
“Still to this day, as much as I love the results of planned projects, sometimes I really just feel like creating and not waiting on protagonists or a set, that is how “Painted by the rain” was born. I was on the road to go to a city where many old and interesting houses can be found, however, it started pouring and hailing very bad, so I shot everything from within the car, through the window.”
Whether constructed or intuitive, Marquis’s work is invariably unique and absorbing. It stands both as a testament to the validity of a variety of approaches to image-making, and as a demonstration of the medium’s illimitable potential.
All images © Audrey Marquis