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JULIAN BESSON a Living Moment

Julian Besson is a Parisian Photographer who escapes to the streets of New York to find his true inspiration. His pictures capture the past in the present, abandoned places and the heritage of New York. Recently he published two series: "80’ s" and "Roller Fashion Skating". IRK magazine asked him some questions about his artwork which could become a lifetime project.

'The Garage' July 5 Th, 2017 E 102 St Carnegie Hill, Manhattan © Julian Besson

Paris and New York are two important cities in your life. Two art centers of the 20s century- two very different myths. Why do you take pictures of New York and not Paris?

I want to lose all connection with my daily life. I need to be elsewhere to photograph. Paris allows me to take a break, the frustration to photograph anything and to be not inspired for long months, makes me even more sensitive. When I travel, all my senses explode. Paris and New York are two very different sites, NY corresponds to the aesthetics of my work.

Mark Cohen has photographed in his neighborhood, Susan Meiselas photographed the teenagers of her street, but that does not work for me. In New York, there is a feeling of freedom, joy and fun, despite the difficulties of life, which I do not perceive in Paris. I am in the shoes of New York, I walk for hours and I stop when I find an interesting place and observe it for hours. I try to explain an irrational feeling for a city through examples.

This city encourages me to step in the footsteps of the photographers I admire, they fed me without that I am copying them. I am inspired and I take the picture. I missed a photo of kids cycling on the first avenue two years ago, I never stopped thinking about this missed photo. Eight months later after I dragged three days in the lower east side on Rivington st in hoping to see them again, I found them near a basketball court!

There was such a little chance to find them but New York helped me, that is the relationship I have with this city. She opens my arms. Whatever the energy of this city is, it is very stimulating.

' Caporal Hunter Conway and Sergio Bonaventura Graziani' E9 St .Lower East Side May 24. New York © Julian Besson

It is no secret – you are not the first one taking pictures of NY. I know you like New York photographers such as Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, and Francesca Woodman. What do you like about them and other photographers?

The greatest photographers have lived or stayed in New York, but do not think that this city is easy to photograph despite its photogenic and cinematic side, you have to fight against your subconscious who influences you to make snapshots of American life.

The work of Tish Murtha (Youth Unemployment) and Mark Cohen (Dark Knees) inspire me every day. American photographers such as Helen Levitt, Vivian Maier, Evelyn Hofer and Stephen Shames (Bronx Boys) are amongst my favorites. Of course, I also like French humanist photographers as Marc Riboud or Sabine Weiss. Not to mention Diane Arbus’ s portrait of a kid with pomegranate plastic in Central Park, or the realistic portraits of the most disadvantaged by Marry Ellen Mark. I admire their talent for being so immersed with the people.

The work of Francesca Woodman and her self-portraits are so poetic, I like the idea of being photographed by oneself, without narcissism, but just to say 'here's who I am'.

' The Teacher' Lewis Av Dr Sandy F Ray BLVD.Brooklyn May 2018 © Julian Besson

What styles of photography don't you like?

I do not have affinities with architectural photography. I prefer abandoned objects in the street imagining who used them, that is my idea of photography, the story behind the story.

Somewhere in Brooklyn © Julian Besson

© Julian Besson

How was your first time in NY? The first picture?

My first photography of New York was taken in July 2015 at midnight from the window of a yellow taxi coming from the airport. Nothing more beautiful than the view of Manhattan by night.

' koolout_k ' Serie ' 80s' ' Knowledge is King ' Manhattan , May 25. 2019 © Julian Besson

On your website, you write you love capturing moments that remind you of the America of the 50s, a time you never lived in. You were born in the 70s and you were a teenager in the 90s. Why are you so obsessed with the recent past?

This past is the one I saw in front of my French television when I was a kid. It's the elegance of the women of the time, the fashion, the omnipresent music, the African American kids of Harlem playing in the street, the fight for the rights of this community, and the photographs of many demonstrations against the Vietnam war. So, unconsciously, my passion for this culture grew inside.

But it was necessary to come back to reality and break with the exaggerated interpretation. That was my point of departure before starting to photograph the city in 2015. I studied the history of American street photographers to complete these memories. I like to deceive the viewer, that my style is associated with a form of timelessness, and transcribe the heritage of New York.

The Dancer Khalil Turf Dancer Pigalle, November 2018, Paris Serie ' Bone Break Dancer ' The 'Popping' is a street dance and one of the original funk styles that came from Fresno, California during the early 1980s.

What happened in your youth in France that nourished your picture of New York today?

Like most of the teenagers in 1990, I discovered the old school side of the '80s in front of my French TV watching MTV's American Hip Hop music videos (Run DMC, Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, Notorious Big...) and the legendary Spike Lee movie 'Do the Right Thing' in 1989, that was going to be marked eternally in my memory.

Serie 'THE HART STREET' Dancer/choregrapher: Annalee Traylor May 2018, Hart St. Brooklyn
Steffy Video creator and skater Williamsburg Brooklyn, May 25 /2019

How long are your stays in NY and how do you structure your days there?

My budget is very limited, the first four trips lasted only ten days each, the 5th took three weeks, and I would like to find a way to stay longer. That's why I sleep only four hours by night, lulled by the sirens of fire trucks and the sound of parked cars or barbecue parties in the gardens, especially in Brooklyn.

I get up at 6 am, walk all day, drink coffee with a cigarette every two hours, look for backgrounds which I note on my notebook. In the evening I work on my photos and send some to the people I photographed to thank them.