September 27, 2011

En Haute: Photography, Urban Space, and Henri Hadida


Montreal-based artist, Henri Hadida will show his most recent photographic works at Studio Beluga September 26 – October 6, 2011. Entitled Haute Tension, Hadida explains that this body of work marks a personal creative benchmark for himself as an artist. His most recent work departs from more “sentimental” and traditional forms of photographic activity, and instead, embraces contemporary photographic directions, particularly with the exploration of digital photography.

Hadida’s show explores our daily and habitual non/interaction with the objects that surround us and our ever-so human ability to take them for granted. Space is such an important human creation and condition, however, we rarely take the time to stop and think about how our space has been parcelled, organized, or even how it functions or affects us. Hadida focuses on the visual interaction between power lines, transformers, telephone poles and the extensive network of tree branches among them.

Is there a tension between us and the objects of our space? Like the old proverb, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound, Hadida might ask us if we pay no attention to the objects that fill the urban space we live in, do they exist? Or do they have or provide emotion? Do they even matter?

Hadida generously plays with his photographs in the post-processing. Hadida initially took the original images as “mere documents”. Void of emotion, the images take a completely different perspective as he engages them in a manipulative dance of colour, negative space and contrast. The vibrant and challenging colour palate frames the skinny power lines and almost breathing an air of comic book culture, while some of his images resemble remarkably detailed pencil crayon sketches. Others have the spirit of fresh silkscreened image, the paint so vibrant it must not yet be dry.

Hadida is purposefully calling attention to the objects within our space that we seem to neglect, only by altering how we view the same object we see everyday. Attached to our cellphones, another object of our urban space, we spend most of our day either looking down into our palms or straight ahead at the skinny sidewalk ahead. Our focus is our status update, our twitter mention, or making sure you aren’t bumping into each other. But we rarely look up. We rarely stop and look at the multifarious aspects of our daily urban lives. Perhaps that is simply a condition of being “urban”.

Be it through the works of Haute Tension or out on the street, Hadida wants us, if only momentarily, to look up and all around. Hadida explains that “as a society, we passively allow others to decide what goes on around us.” He calls attention to our acquiescence through his art, through the photography. He wants us to shed our basic subjectivity of how we see urban objects and “dig a little deeper” in efforts to connect with these object on a more often than not, unexpected emotional level.

KVR: Your work takes a look at how we as urban dwellers take for granted the mechanics of our urban space. In your view, what is the importance of our relationship with object in our urban space?

HH: I am a strong believer in the success of design in all facets of life. Form and function can be more than utilitarian. That is why I am a Mac addict and love apple for thrusting great design on the world to show them that if you only give things a little more thought you can produce beautiful objects.  Urban environments reflect the conscience of a community. The fact that we have become apathetic and totally oblivious to how our urban landscape is manipulated, demonstrates that we will accept mediocrity, thoughtlessness and shortsighted directions. Mediocrity should not be an option. I want to feel good when i step out into my city.

KVR: Why only power lines, telephone poles, and electric transformers?  

HH: I felt i needed to fully document this subject matter.  I did not want to dilute my first impulse of what I called SKY CLUTTER: this was the first title of this series before the photos started to reveal their anger.  There is also a very distinct graphic visual appeal that can be easily identified.  Because these objects are literally hanging over our heads I needed to point them out as a metaphor of what we do not see in our daily lives.

KVR: What do you hope for people to take away from an interaction with Haute Tension? 

HH: My hope is that the viewer will realize that we have let others decide what our landscapes will look like.  I also want them to see beyond the obvious and dig past the normal everyday moments: either stop and appreciate the beauty around you or paradoxically get angry at the insanity of todays civilization.

Hadida’s Haute Tension opens September 29th at Studio Beluga (160 St.Viateur Ouest, Suite 508A) in Montreal. The artist’s vernissage will be held October 1 from 19h00-22h00. RSVP on Facebook here.

About the Author

|Contributor & Photographer| MA in cultural and political communications. Currently live in Montreal with my boyfriend and his cat, Shakira. Writer, #hashtagabuser, slow food advocate, culinary master, avid photographer, hopeless romantic, handsome pants, part-time lumberjack, occasional super hero, determined professional, master of witt, and self proclaimed food and wine junkie.



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  1. Rachelle

    Heading to the exhibit on Saturday. Can’t wait to check it out! Sounds great.

  2. Ty

    Great piece Kyle.

    So excited about this exhibit!

  3. Thank you so much, the article is great, i look forward to seeing you all at the show.

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