When I interviewed Henrik Purienne, it felt like I was reliving a scene in ‘End of the Tour’, a movie about writer David Foster Wallace being followed by an author (played by Jesse Eisenberg) during a book tour. For those who’ve watched the film, I’m referencing the scene in the car driving home from the airport. ‘The End of the Tour’ is a true story, a moving portrayal of fame in all its forms. In it, Eisenberg plays real-life Rolling Stone author David Lipsky, a man who spends the entirety of the movie trying to excavate Wallace’s character, unaccepting of the nonchalance Wallace presents. And you never truly know if Wallace was calculated in everything he did, or if he merely had nothing else to show. Regardless, it’s hard not to draw a parallel between Lipsky’s ‘search for more’ and the brief conversation I had with Purienne.
At the end of the interview, I too was left scratching my head. I had little idea whether Purienne was shrugging off answers because he had little else to say, or if there was a more strategic reason behind his brevity, one that added to his mystique as a photographer. Regardless, he agreed to do the interview, was polite and punctual, and he is – without doubt – one of the most talented photographers of the modern day. So who really cares, right? Enjoy, and go and buy Mirage: JamaisVu.
The Main Event
What have you done in the last week?
Mostly debating about paper stock for my new book, ‘Holiday’.
Can you tell us anything about Holiday?
Holiday is a collection of snapshots of friends and girlfriends taken on holiday over the past three years. Out December.
You once said “I like books.” In the hope you enjoy fiction, I ask: what makes a good fiction book?
I hate fiction. It’s just obvious metaphors and cheap sentimentality. Reality is so much more absurd.
Do you think that fiction should play a role in photography?
You mean like the mind-blowing narratives woven by the likes of David LaChapelle and Nick Knight. Nope.
Bob Sala writes ad copy for new casinos and bowling alleys. He’s an utterly corrupt high-end restaurant critic and a yachting photographer. Bob wants to know if you’d prefer making art in 1969 and living those years – unaware of their cultural relevance – or recreate that time phase in your art, as you do now?
I have never aimed to recreate anything. I just surround myself with what I am instinctively attracted to, regardless of era. I would definitely prefer to live 50 years in the past or 50 years into the future. Give me no technology or refined technology. The future is primitive.
Speaking of ad copy, JamaisVu. Retrospectively, how does it feel to look back on your decision to create an independent publication, given its success?
To me, personally, success is always a sign of failure.
Would you rather your work evoke fury or indifference in someone, and why?
I’m kind of indifferent to this question.
I believe that truly investing yourself in a project (or persona) means surrendering a part of yourself to it. Do you consider yourself ‘whole’?
I am organic. I can regenerate.
At this point in the interview, I used a rather transparent ploy to get more words out of Henrik. 42, to be exact. His response?
Here’s some of Henrik’s work. Whatever your opinion of him is, he can take a photo.