Breaking the Rules

Today, over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and urban areas. According to the UN, this figure is only expected to increase – reaching an estimated 70% by 2050. Blandine Soulage is a Lyon-based French visual artist who is interested in the “architecture of bodies.” Her playful personal work probes the relationship between humans and built-up spaces, and is part of a wider back catalogue of commercial shoots that have been published in New York Times, Time Magazine and Le Monde.

The Deviation series depicts anonymous characters in unexpected postures. They cling to the sides of buildings whilst seeming to defy gravity. Soulage creates this effect by working in collaboration with dancers; they come together to craft unpredictable freeze frames. Misdirection and visual trickery are everywhere, with figures appearing to balance on tight ledges or scale columns like spiders. Throughout, pops of yellow, red and blue stand out against the bright whites and dull greys of Brutalist cityscapes.

Readers might be reminded of contemporaries like Viviane Sassen or Brooke DiDonato, who also play with the human form and how bodies interact with space. Their works also often feature anonymous individuals performing movements that are uncanny and off kilter, sometimes constrained within domestic settings or out-and-about in the world. What sets Soulage apart is her analytical interest in urbanity. These pictures ask: what impact do built-up environments have on our bodies? And what happens if we break the rules?

Deviations is a Rencontres d’Arles X Fuji award-winner. In summer 2024, it will be exhibited at the Koslov Larsen Gallery, Houston, and FotoArica Festival. | @blandine.soulage

Image Credits:
1. Deviation 2 © Blandine Soulage
2. Deviation 18 © Blandine Soulage
3. Deviation 12 © Blandine Soulage
4. Deviation 19 © Blandine Soulage
5. Deviation 16 © Blandine Soulage
6. Deviation 21 © Blandine Soulage