Date of Award
Master of Arts
Les Essif, Paul Lee
Visions of America vary greatly. There is an extensive variety found in foreign and domestic portrayals of the United States and these representations are affected by both pro and anti-American ideologies. Such juxtapositions can be found in contemporary French photography. In analyzing the works of photographers, Rémi Noël, Pascal Aimar, as well as the collaborative works of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, I will argue that their vision of America is influenced by their own perceptions and their viewpoint as French artists. These photographers seek to picture their versions of Texas, Detroit, and New York in ways that reveal aspects of American culture. Their stance as foreigners gives them the opportunity to reveal tropes present in American culture from a more critical point of view, through subject matters ranging from images of consumerism to destruction. These images of American cities, complete with their cultures and subcultures, evoke, in various ways, a sense of isolation through the photographers’ re-appropriation of cultural symbols such as batman, life magazine, and architecture, as well as their illustration of the passive nature of time. Isolation, here, in its various representations, contributes to an egocentric and individualist culture that has been cultivated in America. With these objects examined through a culturally French perspective, these photographers illustrate themes like history, economic downfall, interpersonal relations, and expansive landscapes. Occupying a central position in their photographs, these themes contribute to recreating the isolation so prevalent in American culture.
Downing, Mary Elizabeth, "Isolation Nation: Representations of the United States in the photographs of Rémi Noël, Pascal Aimar, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2014.