CityEuropeFeaturedEmpire of Dust by Amélie Labourdette

Amelie Labourdette interrogates through her photographic work, which is in the landscape, is a priori invisible. There is always a blurred area of concern, a landscape underneath the visible landscape, which is not given at first gaze.
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Amelie Labourdette interrogates through her photographic work, which is in the landscape, is a priori invisible.

There is always a blurred area of concern, a landscape underneath the visible landscape, which is not given at first gaze.

This photographs series, Empire of dust has been realized in southern Italy, in regions of Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia, where fnancial crises and embezzlement have made of the incompleteness, an architectural aesthetics. Trough this series, she tries jointly through an “archeology of present” to refect the contemporary history by the yardstick of these unfinished architectures, while invoking the viewer’s imagination so that there unfolds “a variant of the world”.


« On each photographs, emanates a disquieting strangeness: unfinished villa, ghost dam or building left as skeleton, all architectures refect a real estate disaster. Their concrete body, naked and disarmed, accuse also a premature aging, cracks overgrown by vegetation or first signs of crumbling: the ruin threatens, especially palpable in a vitality lush greenery seizing, coniferous forest erected on a mountainside, palm trees and passion fruits, tall fennels with yellow fowers. In the manner of ancient ruins, these human constructions which seem to getting back to nature, to be reabsorbed by the environment they emerged one day. »1 Concrete skeletons of major projects remained pending, of unfinished buildings, recurring patterns of our time afected by socio-economic upheavals, become also, because of their incompleteness, interstitial spaces of indeterminacy, conducive to a photographic quest, exploring the possibilities of a singular reinvestment of the world: they are proving to be, spaces and indefinite forms that have, due to their incompleteness, a «becoming-other» that the design of the initial project had dedicated them.

These indefnite forms, between upcoming ruins and potential sculptures, are drawing the fgure of a strange present between dystopia and utopia, contemplating its own suspended space : a temporal interregnum between, an after the «disaster» and a revival of history that builds a new poetic area, over which hovers the specter of the end of a certain world.


Captured at dusk, photographs of Amélie Labourdette are paradoxically timeless. Te moment of capture stretches until become an ethereal period, creating a sense of unreality: the static light, the lack of shadows realize a shift in temporal stratification of the landscape that contains preludes the past, evidence of this, and stigma of the future.

All these photographs form thus a space of imaginary speculation, inviting the viewer to weave improbable links between diferent referential and memory layers of history: from the school of Düsseldorf to the minimalist sculptures of the 60s, or else to the monumental interventions of Land Art, but also from the ruins of the German romantic painting to the “forward-looking ruins” of the science fiction novels, such as Earth Abides of G.R. Stewart, describing a post-human era, where nature gets over on human constructions. « Is that these ruins are for Amelie Labourdette, “holes in the real”, gates, ways to access time itself: in front of these, we become archaeologists of our time, we wear, in the manner of astronauts of The Planet of the Apes, a look back at our present, our future too.»2

« Suspended in a foating temporality, these landscapes refect the depths a familiar human history, made of hubris and vanity, entropy and inevitable return to dust.»3


About Amélie Labourdette

Based in Nantes (France), Amelie Labourdette obtained her degree in Fine Art from the National Fine Art School of Nantes. Recipient of numerous research and production grants, her work has been shown in several exhibitions in France and abroad, and is included in public or private collections. In 2016, she is also winner of the Sony World Photography Awards Professional Competition under the category Architecture, with the photographic series Empire of Dust.

Amelie Labourdette interrogates through her photographic work, which is located below the visible landscape. The landscape refers us to something collective and individual memory. It’s a refect of an era’s history, well as from our imagination.
By questioning through her photographic work, the notion of territory to build, to appropriate or redefne artistically, she tries to reveal the multi-layered identities and temporalities of a landscape. She builds and realizes her photographic projects closely related with the territory idea, because it’s about landscape and «Archeology of present» she wants to talk frst of all. Amélie Labourdette questions the aesthetic, fctional and documentary values, induced by her photographs. [Official Website]

1 / Revue 303 N°138 Design: chronicles / Contemporary Art / text : Éva Prouteau, p 80-81.

2 / Revue 303 N°140 « Ruines et vestiges »(« Ruins and remains»): Carte blanche to Amélie Labourdette / text : Julien Zerbone.

3 / Revue 303 N°138 Design: chronicles / Contemporary Art / text : Éva Prouteau, p 80-81.





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