It’s a story that is both contemporary and eternal : the birth of an œuvre. It takes root on the banks of the Garonne, around twenty kilometres from Bordeaux. Alain Laboile is an iron sculptor. He is an artist who makes quirky staircases, guardrails studded with dragonflies and giant sculptures, a two-metre-fifty tall “hippogryph” or a four-metre high “musician centaur”.
In 2004, given the amount of time he’d spent dreaming of giant animals, Alain Laboile became interested in the miniature people that swarmed under their feet. A self-taught photographer, he published his first entomologist’s images on an amateur forum : swarms of insects, colonies of ants and slugs. Pitiless enthusiasts became his photography teachers. He forged his style from the kiln of the criticism of his peers and soon registered in amateur contests, which he won, namely the prestigious Canon prize, which offered him a photographic journey above the forest canopy...
At the same time, Alain Laboile became interested in other puzzling beasts : his children. It must be said that his family isn’t quite like other people’s. The first word that comes to mind is “lively”. A house made of bits and bobs at the end of a road, a pocket-sized garden, a fresh-water swamp, a bamboo hedge and a stream. That’s his kingdom. No TV. A computer for each child. And that’s it.
It takes no more than half an hour in that house of joy to understand that playfulness is the key. They have the art of making each day an adventure. Alain Laboile’s photos reflect this. Images with a sense of humour are rare. His luminous black and whites capture the poetry of the everyday and a spirit of freedom. He published the first images of his family in Compétence photo, the amateur magazine, and set up a Facebook page. Messages came pouring in, from Argentina to Japan.
Here at the 6Mois newsroom, we fell in love with these pictures. We featured them as our “Family Album” of n°4, Autumn-Winter 2012-2013. The Laboile family with six children came to Paris to our offices for a wonderful evening with our readers. For them, it was a consecration. But in fact, it’s just the beginning.
The famous American photographer Jock Sturges discovered Alain’s work and latched onto it. Now, every time he speaks, in front of any audience, Sturges introduces him with the striking phrase : “Laboile is the new Lartigue and the heir of Doisneau”. He has shared his discovery with galleries and publishers : an article from the photo columnist of the New York Times, a report on ABC News, exhibitions in Tokyo, Santa-Monica, New Dehli and Vienna. Steidl, the most prestigious photographic editor in the world, has signed for an album due for release in 2014.
Alain Laboile’s adventure is full of lessons. The web served as a photography school and Facebook as an exhibition space. But a body of work becomes legitimate when it is selected and recognised – and this process escapes hype and “like”s.
Every issue of 6Mois provides a selection of works that are as simple, exacting and essential as those of Alain Laboile. Each one has its own history, rhyme and reason. To be published in 6Mois, there needs to be an encounter between the power of the images and the pertinence of what they relate for readers in the 21st century. Like all authentic relationships, this is not worked out in algorithms.
Photographer Lucy Hilmer, commenting on the work that we published in the “Photo Booth” section, ended with these words : “I feel happy, in good health, loved. I’m finally starting to be recognised as an artist in Europe.” She’s 68 years old. Recognition sometimes requires great patience !