Unseen Platform
      by Ish Doney
      September 2019
      With a background in Economics, David Favrod (b. 1982, Japan) came to photography somewhat by chance, after being accepted into Ecole Cantonal d’Art de Lausanne’s industrial design programme. Possibly as a result, his use of the medium is far from straightforward. Applying painting and drawing techniques inspired by Japanese comics and animation, Favrod augments his photographs with images of another reality, one in which the rules that regulate our own world do not apply. Through many-layered themes of memory and belonging, Favrod explores his place in the world, from the lives of his Japanese grandparents to the difficulties of making a home in a new country.
      What led you to photography initially, and what continues to make it the most relevant medium for your work?

My life changed completely in 2005. After studying Economics and working for two years in that field, I applied to ECAL (an art school in Switzerland). I was accepted into Industrial Design, but during a cross-over course in photography, Pierre Fantys, our professor, asked me to change majors and that’s how my journey in photography began.

Photography is still the starting point for my work and I guess it’ll always be relevant to an extent. At least for the foreseeable future...

      Tell us a bit about your latest series, The Sound of the Black Waves.

I began Le son des vagues noires (The Sound of the Black Waves) in 2017. My life had changed a lot: I moved to Spain, got married and had a son, and my productivity dropped significantly. I was confused about how my work should evolve and how to make sense of myself in this new environment. 

The project is about my new life here with my family, far from my comfort zone. It’s about shadows, mirrors and reflexion, archives, and food. Instead of creating works with specific meanings, I like to leave them open to different interpretations. It’s a kind of invitation for viewers to reimagine the everyday. To speak of a life, in any way, we have to enter into fiction. First, because a photograph can never capture the whole reality of a life; real life always exceeds even the most elaborate representations. But also, our ability to recognise and accept reality is limited. We prefer to substitute the real for the imaginary. My research has led to a narrative that sits on a strange line, oscillating between reality and fiction. It’s not a specific narrative, but one that arises naturally from the images.

The title comes from one of my first memories of living in Spain. Our apartment is near the ocean and what really struck me is that, during the night, the sound of the waves just covers everything.

      Your combination of manga and photography is incredibly intriguing. What inspired you to draw and paint over your photographs?
      I’ve always been fascinated by manga and anime (Japanese comics and animated movies). Anything can happen in these mediums. They create another world with its own set of rules, quite separate from those governing our day-to-day lives. This reality is completely surreal but, as readers and viewers, we accept it. I’m also fascinated by the fact it’s been manufactured, made intentionally, not captured or found. You can’t just go into the street and take pictures. When it’s manga or painting, all those creative decisions have been made.
      How would you describe your process?

I start by sketching an idea and sometimes it’s a few years before I produce it. The idea continues to grow, making its own path and transforming until I understand why I have to make it. 

For example, with La chute, I started digging the hole in October 2017 and after a week or so, I took the photograph. By November, the negative was scanned and ready to work on. I zoomed in to about 500% to draw each blade of grass, getting totally lost in the image. It took me around 2500 hours to complete, but not all images are so time consuming, it depends on the complexity of the drawing.

      London Independent Photography
      In Focus: David Favrod
      by Frank Orthbandt
      April 2016

David Favrod (b1982) reflects on his dual Swiss-Japanese heritage by re-enacting the traumatic experiences his Japanese grandparents faced during the final bombings of WW2 in the Japanese city of Kobe - a traumatic event which David knows only from stories but one that subconsciously shaped the fabric of the family and his own upbringing. The resulting images illustrate the memory of the events as a basis of self-discovery, identity and belonging. They are beautifully crafted tableaus of reflective images.

Although meticulously planned and executed, the images do not re-enact the scenes of war, but rather they reflect and interpret the effect of events handed down through generations. In his masterly constructed images David utilises a mix of visual techniques, pushing the borders of photography, opening it up to new possibilities including the use of sound and symbolism to enhance the narrative, and intentionally blurring reality, fiction and reflection in the process.

Hikari has received an abundance of international acclaim, including awards from LensCulture, C/O Talents and Foam and last year a catalogue was published by Kehrer Verlag.

fLIP spoke to David about the motivation behind his work, its reception, his unique technique and creative process, and his future plans.

      Extract conversation :
      How long have you been working with the photographic medium, what was your initial motivation and do you have formal training ?
      When I started art school (ECAL/École Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne) in 2005, I was involved in the industrial design section. In the preparatory year, we covered other subjects such as graphic design, photography and cinema. After the first semester Pierre Fantys, who was the head of the photography department, asked me to move into his department. After the preparatory year I did a three-year Bachelor's degree in the Photography department and a two-year Masters in Art Direction, increasingly working with photography as my main medium, but also experimenting with a wider choice of visual techniques.
      You also break borders of traditional photography and experiment with sounds or moving images to enhance the narrative of the story. Is that something you think remains central to your work and you would like to experiment with further?

Yes for me it's very important to push the boundaries of my practice, step by step, image after image. My reflection is: how can I, for what I want to produce, find the best solution for the best result.

      Catalogue HIKARI
      Radiant past
      by Julia Katharina Thiemann
      November 2015
      Extract :
      With the photo series Hikari, David Favrod transports, in his own aesthetic way, individually transmitted aspects of the communicative generation memory into the cultural memory of the com- munity and allows the per se instable biographic recollections, which are both subjectively influenced and aesthetically formative, to become aesthetic experiences in a superindividual manner. The structures that the recollections refer to, always presuppose a knowledge of the context. Favrod's narrative strategy of contextualised gaps and associations represents a fascinating turnabout within art, which does not process history in a functional way, but offers it subjectively and obviously fictively as a narrative without per se interpretative parameters of meaning and in doing so creates his own unique story. Here, the inseparable combination of biographical references and fictional elements is a tried and tested means of not reconstructing the works as affirmative representations, but as an instrument of highlighting and revealing the discrepancies, gaps and discontinuities of history through stories, while at the same time maintaining a personal view of an individual fate.

Favrod plays with the dictum of indexicality of photographs, which here explicitly make a strong impression due to their subjective, fictive presentation. The artist does not only attempt the innovative restitution of the forgotten but rather shows the scope of the medium of photography and its approach to the way in which cultural memory functions in its respective constructedness. Cultural remembrance work and medial attributions of photography are hence epitomised in a reflective way. While photography primarily proceeds photography as a medium of abstraction, it also contains a moment of deconstruction of spatiality and temporality. "The trans-historical has been overtaken by the transitory".

Favrod's often poetic and sometimes mysterious compositions are based on concrete circumstances and backgrounds, which the photographs unite and consolidate in themes. This conceptual approach is particularly apparent when the individual photographs are combined to create a serial impact. While some individual photographs at first glance seem based on situative everyday aspects or commonplaces, they can in fact be traced back to specific individual fates and political contexts, which in turn refer directly back to David Favrod's interwoven metanarrative. In this way he combines subjective experiences with collective interpretative perceptions. Hence behind Favrod's photographs is a constructed reference system, which he creates both conceptually and intuitively from different fragments.

      Extract conversation :
      In your photographs from this work series, more subdued colors and natural hues predominate—combined with glowing red! How did this come about and what significance does the color red have for you?

The red color is quite important … The best answer would be that I give a lot of importance to the red color. I was very inspired by the movie The grave of the fireflies, a Japanese animation film written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli. It is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical novel Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka. This film reminds me very much of what my grandparents lived through during the war. They lived in the same city Kobe and hence shared the events described in the movie. In the film all the sequences taken from memories are in red.

Maybe I can explain the picture Son magnifique champ de fleurs (Her beautiful field of flowers). In 2010, I produced the picture Un magnifique champ de fleurs for my series Omoide Poroporo. For me it was just a beautiful field of flowers. After speaking with my grandparents that night about their memories during the Second World War, one of the memories of my grandfather was that one of his older sisters was very ill. And just before dying the last sentence she said to their mother was: "I saw a beautiful field of flowers." So it was a decision to re-use my image Un magnifique champ de fleurs and to apply a red filter to my picture, creating this new picture that could be her beautiful field of flowers.

      Your works with onomatopoeias are very special. Where did you get the idea to paint written sounds over your photographs?

A lot of the memories of my grandparents during World War II were sounds. During the bombings they went to underground shelters. It was dark. The memories that remain from these incidents are the sound of explosions, the sound of planes, people crying, ... So, my question was: How can I introduce sound into my picture? It's why I decided to use onomatopoeias (that were found in manga / comics) and to paint them over the prints using acryl.

I started to produce the three images with the onomatopoeias on the black background (Viuuu, Tatatatata and Arrgh). For me it was like this: I took the memories of my grandparents and literally transposed them into the picture. (The underground shelters where it was very dark—black background with just the sound of people crying, sound of airplanes, etc.—onomatopoeias).

After this first experimentation I tried to add them to my pictures (BAOUMM and Pluie noire). I wanted to see how the onomatopoeias can add something to help understand the picture better or to feel / describe a sensation or a situation.

My third test with the idea of sound was with the picture Pika Don. Here I no longer use the onomatopoeias but I just paint the result of the sound / explosion of the image. Pika Don is a word that has been integrated into the Japanese vocabulary as a result of the atomic bombs. Translated, PIKA means the flash (brilliant light) and DON means the explosion, representing what was seen and heard when the bombs were detonated. After taking a picture of a flash, I scanned the negative and I destroyed the grain of the image with photoshop. Then I painted the "sound / explosion" result on the print.

      Catalogue HIKARI
      by Ann-Christin Bertrand
      November 2015

The past creates meaning and identity—not only on a personal level but also on a social one. Our memory of the past is hence an important part of our self-image. Yet how do we actually remember the past? What is the relationship between the past and the present? And what happens when the memories in question are those of others?

Photography as a medium, which is still characterised by a belief in "that-is-theway-it-was", seems to be the perfect means for capturing memories. There appears to be an external reason for commemoration, it gives meaning to the event depicted and also documents the fact that something is worthy of being remembered. However, can photography really help us to remember?

In his series Hikari, the Japanese-Swiss artist David Favrod reflects on images of those memories and stories of the Second World War in Japan, as told to him by his Japanese grandparents, and which have become an important part of his own roots and search for identity. He uses the medium of photography, combining it with a wide range of imaging techniques taken from the Japanese tradition of Manga and Animé such as superimposition, collage and onomatopoeias as well as drawing, to create a pictorial whole. In this way a new visual structure is created, which transcends the limitations of photography and creates completely new pictorial spaces and possibilities for narration. In this way the artist not only succeeds in portraying what cannot be portrayed, something that is often inherent in memories and dreams, but also playfully questions the medium of photography in its function of recollecting. Indeed it is the combination of photographic and non-photographic means that generates its own visions and fragments of memory. Past incidents, as well as fantasies and associations interweave to create new stories. The boundaries between reality and fiction are hereby intentionally blurred, in order to ultimately draw closer to the "truth".

Interestingly, this procedure can also be observed in other areas of visual media. Hence in recent years a new kind of documentary film has become increasingly more distinguishable, in which the filmmakers draw on an innovative, hybrid combination of animation and documentary, such as in Last Hijack by Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta, who recently won the International Emmy Award 2015, and Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis, also 2015—to name just two examples. These films, by playing with fictive elements and a wild cross-over of fiction, raw material and classic documentation, tell a story that although it is based on truth, also plays with the impression that the film could be of a fictive nature—and in this way blurs the boundaries of traditional documentary films.

David Favrod is thus representative of a movement of artists and filmmakers that since the introduction of digital technology consciously questions and breaks with previous traditions in favour of expanding former boundaries, even creating hybrid visual and narrative structures—which radically changes the manner of telling stories.

      C/O Berlin
      November 2015

BAOUMMM, ratatatata, viiuuu. The sounds of air raids on Kobe, Japan. In the last seven months of the Second World War, half of the city was destroyed. Incendiary and cluster bombs wreaked untold damage and claimed thousands of civilian lives. Food, water, and energy supplies dwindled and social life collapsed. After the war, and for the decades that followed, there was collective silence: the past was buried, the suffering repressed, and discussion closed off entirely. But couldn't the memories of individual and collective catastrophe be preserved instead? How could experiences that have been passed on through oral traditions be kept as part of cultural memory? And can one borrow the memories of others to define and solidify one's own identity? In the cycle of photographs Hikari, photographer David Favrod retraces the experiences of his grandparents in Kobe. He explores and processes his family's history, which he knows only from the stories that unconsciously shaped him as he was growing up. In his photographs, Favrod recreates memories of events that he never experienced, and in this act of artistic appropriation, he tests the fine line between fiction and reality.

Favrod's photographs are not realistically staged re-enactments of historic events. Instead, they explore how the memories of events have been handed down and interpreted. To approach his grandparents' non-linear narratives, he uses found images and visual materials derived from different sources, which he then rearranges into new narratives—as idiosyncratic, fictive memory-images. He does not rely on the medium of photography alone but uses a combination of visual techniques such as superimposition, collage, and drawing to create an artistic whole. Another unique feature of Favrod's work is his use of onomatopoetic words—the sounds of fighter planes, falling bombs, machine gun fire, and (radioactive) rain—as a genuine compositional element. He writes them in acrylic paint, Manga-style, across the surface of his pictures. Their unrepresentability points to the intensity and importance of acoustic stimuli for perception and memory.

Favrod's approach gives rise to new visual structures that transcend the limits of photography and open up new dimensions of the image and new possibilities for narrative. His intentionally ambiguous pictures undermine the medium of photography and the belief inherent in it that "this is how it was." His works contain experiences of discontinuity, the fragmentary, ambivalence, and multiple perspectives, and thus reveal remembering to be an associative act. David Favrod understands individual and collective memory not as a clearly defined foundation, but as a fluid and ongoing process of self-discovery and constant creation of new meanings. Memory is always being renegotiated as social construct and cultural creation. It is through the combination of photographic and non-photographic elements that new dream-images and memory fragments are created; past events are woven together with fantasies and associations into new stories. Here, the boundaries between reality and fiction are intentionally blurred as a means to ultimately approach "truth."

Interestingly, similar processes are underway in other types of visual media as well. A new documentary film form has been seen increasingly in recent years in which filmmakers use an innovative, hybrid combination of animation and documentation—for instance, in Last Hijack by Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta, which recently won the International Emmy Award 2015, or in Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis, also from 2015, to give just two examples. By consciously experimenting with fictive elements and mixing fiction, raw material, and classic documentary in a wild crossover, they tell stories that are based on historic fact but that also play with the impression of being fictional—and thus blur the boundaries of traditional documentary film.

David Favrod stands as a representative of this emerging movement of artists and filmmakers who, since the advent of digital technology, have been consciously challenging and breaking traditions as a means to transcend established boundaries and work toward hybrid visual and narrative structures, radically changing the ways that stories are told.

      Foam Magazine
      Sense / Sensō
      by Aaron Schuman
      September 2015

In David Favrod's Fuji VS Catogne (2012), the sharp-toothed edge of a craggy mountain peak – solid, heavy, roughly hewn by harsh tectonic shifts, and dusted with brilliant, white snow – is elegantly tamed; softened by cloud, mist, and a subtle, golden, sepia tone. Visually, it's as if the imposing clarity and awe-inspiring sublimity of German Romanticism has been delicately wrapped in the finest of Japanese papers, subdued by different histories, distant memories, and alternative forms of both art and transcendentalism. And in a sense it has, for Favrod's himself – born in Kobe, Japan, to a Japanese mother and a Swiss father, and raised in a small village in the lower Valais since the age of six-months-old – has spent the last decade using the photographic medium to negotiate between these two distinct aspects of his own heritage. As he explained in the statement that accompanied his earlier series, "Gaijin" (2009), "When I was 18, I asked for double nationality at the Japanese embassy, but they refused…It is from this feeling of rejection, and also from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as I am Swiss, that this work was created…[Its aim] is to create 'my own Japan', in Switzerland, from memories of journeys when I was small, my mother's stories, popular and traditional culture, and my grandparents war recitals."

Favrod's latest series, "Hikari" (2012-15), stems directly from "Gaijin" in the sense that it continues to engage with his own Japanese background within a Swiss context. But here Favrod focuses more precisely on notions of memories – specifically those of his grandparents during the Second World War – and how they can be absorbed, interpreted, commemorated and transformed. "When you first look at Fuji VS Catogne" he explains, "you immediately think of Mt. Fuji. But in reality, it's Le Catogne – a Swiss mountain. Like memory, it's easily malleable, and I like walking along this thin line, which separates the fiction from the reality."

Like many of the works found in the series "Gaijin", images such as Fuji VS Catogne walk this line and generally address where such boundaries blur, yet within "Hikari", Favrod has also boldly experimented with and expanded his creative approach, employing a variety of unconventional visual strategies that help him to hint at more detailed and precise aspects of his grandparents' wartime memories. "Many of their memories were sounds", he recalls. "During the bombings they went to underground shelters – it was dark, and their only memories were of the sounds of planes, explosions, people crying. I wanted to introduce these sounds into my pictures, so I decided to use onomatopoeias – like those found in manga – and to paint them directly onto the prints with acrylic."

In Baoummm (2013), a fallow field in winter – bathed in a sickly yellow light, with grey clouds descending and a menacing plume of smoke on the horizon – is interrupted by the Japanese characters "doka" (the Japanese comic-book equivalent of "Bam!" or "Boom!"), falling sharply and rapidly, like a high-speed arrow that's about to pierce the frozen ground. Similar onomatopoeic tactics are used in Tatatatata (2013), Arrgh (2013), and Viuuu (2013) with the acrylic white words painted over richly saturated black prints, intended to mimic the darkness of bomb shelters as they echo with the din of war. In other works, such as Pour Sadako (2012), Favrod incorporates longstanding Japanese arts and traditions, and merges them with more contemporary forms of constructed, allegorical and mix-mediated forms of photographic practice. A flock of red, yellow, and orange origami cranes, in various states of completion, hover over a tranquil stream, blending in with the with the fallen, autumnal leaves that lie on its edges and float on its shallow surface. "Sadako was a young girl living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped," Favrod elaborates. "Years later, she developed leukemia, and died in 1955, at the age of twelve. An old Japanese story says that whoever folds one thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. Sadako didn't manage to fold a thousand cranes whilst alive, but her friends folded the remaining ones, and buried them with her."

Throughout "Hikari", there are many similar allusions – cultural, historical, familial, and personal (incorporating direct references to air raids, anime, ancient castles, atomic flashes, kamikaze pilots, dead siblings, poisonous rain, Favrod's grandmother, self-portraits of Favrod himself, and more), and the series certainly serves as a poignant testament to both the ravagement of the war within Japan, and his grandparents own, painful experiences of it. But ultimately, Favrod's ambitions for the project also stretch well beyond such particulars. "My grandparents witnessed the war", he notes. "They were survivors, they have now passed away, and their memories will soon be a part of history that nobody will remember. In twenty or thirty years, the only memories that we will have from the Second World War will be collective memories. And the mystery of that is just as important. It's really important to me that the viewer brings their own history to the work, and creates their own stories through the images. Because really, 'Hikari' is about two things: memory and commemoration."

      by Sharon Boothroyd
      September 2014

In his series Hikari, David Favrod visits an important time in Japanese history, and its impact on him and his family, through memories. The result is a poignant and compelling narrative positioned somewhere between the personal and the universal. Hints of opening narratives and an other worldly imagination emerged in my mind as I had the pleasure of looking at this work, recently showing at Voies Off Gallery in Arles. Favrod's use of high impact and visceral imagery set alongside an experimental presentation style succeeds in pulling the viewer towards it whilst simultaneously retaining a sense of mystery.

      Your work is situated within a general concept – memories of your Grandparents based on a one night only conversation (Hikari), or your struggle with dual culture identity (Gaijin) – which is fascinating. How do you then come up with the individual imagery? Can you give us an insight into your thought process?
      When I want to start a new project I think about what I want to show and what I want to speak about. Before taking any picture I write the general idea and I start to draw the images on my sketchbook. That allows me to construct the series and to see if there are too many landscapes, enough portrait or still life and to have a balance in the series from these different type of photographs. For each image I think about how I can produce it. I try to find the best solution to speak about the story behind each images. And for sure I think about the series and how the images can work together. It's a quite long process but I like to work like this.

Although your work is strongly based in the photographic you often make use of sound (onomatopoeia) and installation to enhance your exhibits. How did this presentation evolve and what do you think it adds to your work?

      I can't say I use sound in my process right now. I just represent sounds. A lot of the memories of my grandparents during WWII were sounds. During the bombings they went to underground shelters. It was dark. The memories they remain from their events are the sound of explosions, the sound of planes, people crying, … So, my question was : How can I introduce sound in my picture? It's why I decided to use onomatopoeias (that were found in manga/comic) and to paint them on the prints. Yes the installations are a very important question for me. How the installation can use the space to tell the story. I always start from the space and I construct every installation for each space (gallery, museum). So my installations evolve for each exhibition. Each picture is only one size. However I allow myself to change the size of an image when I use murals, this allows me to balance an installation or create a new correlation between 2 superimposed images. Depending on the space and the choice of images, I work on the composition. I reason in terms of sequence and the relation between the images with a choice of spacing and alternating formats. This creates a dynamic viewpoint of the installation, not only horizontally but also in the space. The viewer comes closer to look at a small work, and then moves back to see a larger one, and so one.
      How important is mystery to you? And why? Do you want the viewer to bring something to the work? Do you have any nice examples of this happening?
      Mystery is very important in my work. Indeed it's really important for me that the viewer brings his or her own history to the work. I don't explain in the exhibition the stories behind each images there is only my statement in the entrance. So the viewer has the general idea but I hope they will ask themselves to create their own story with the different images. I have a nice example of this happening this summer. In July I had an exhibition at the Voies Off gallery during Les rencontres internationales de la photography in Arles. During a dinner we started to speak with Christophe Laloi (director of the gallery) and two friends about my last work « Hikari » and the exhibition. After a moment Christophe started to speak about the history of his family during WWII in Europe, so he began to question himself and his own heritage.
      Are themes of identity, culture and memory continuing themes for you? What is next for you?
      Yes the theme of identity, culture and memory are very important for me and are certainly continuing themes for my next projects. I guess my education and all that I lived through when I was young, all the experiences I had, affect in a way the man I am today and so also how I take pictures. I'm working on several projects now. 2 long term projects one about the yokais (japanese monsters stories) and one about Pierre Favez, the cousin of my father, an alpinist who died in the Lhotse Shar (Himalaya) in the early 80. But now, I'm currently working on a new project called Le son des vagues noires (the sound of the black waves) which is a mix between manga (comics), stories about the ocean, fictions,… I'm really in the beginning of my research but I'm very excited by the process and how I can create and show a new typology of images and a new idea of sequencing. (A mix between photography and the manga / comic).
      I'm interested in your influences and your education. What teaching methods have stayed with you and impacted you from ECAL?
      I have a lot of influences: my family, novels, painters, films, photographers,… I studied at ECAL for 6 years (1 preparatory, 3 for the Bachelors and 2 for the Masters). The production of images was very intense with a lot of workshops and imposed thematics. For sure the best years was the 3 last where I was totally free to produce what I wanted to do.
      You have achieved a lot of success with both your work Gaijin and Hikari. How do you define success?
      At this stage of my career, the success for me it's to have the luck, as now, to be only focused on my projects without worrying about if I need to do commercial works to live. Just doing what I love. And for that I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the people that help me. From my family to my friends and all the people that believe in my projects and give me exposure, prizes, exhibitions. Thank you very much!
      Time Lightbox
      David Favrod's Mysterious Memories at the Voies-Off Festival
      by Kristal Grow
      July 2014

The 2014 Voies-Off Festival supports emerging contemporary photographers from its location on the outskirts of Les Rencontres d'Arles, including David Favrod's visual exploration of public histories and personal memories.


The Voies-Off festival, billed as an alternative to the sprawling Rencontres d'Arles photography fair in France, returns to the fringes this year with a survey of emerging artists and photographers poised to make a mark on the world of contemporary photography.

Launched in 1996, the Voies-Off festival, led by Artistic Director Christophe Laloi, aims to discover new artists and put their work in front of the massive audiences that attend the larger festival at Arles. More than an exhibition space, Voies-Off also hosts professional development seminars and portfolio reviews, and each year presents the Voies-Off Award, a cash prize given to one artist for "the clarity of his/her vision and the quality of their work," according to the 2014 festival program.

It's these resources, coupled with free admission for the spill-over audience from Arles that has perhaps helped propel young photographers to the next level of their career and given them a platform not only to show their work, but also to present their ideas to an audience of their peers and professionals in the increasingly competitive contemporary art market.

David Favrod, whose work was also featured in a primary exhibition at the 2014 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival in Toronto, Canada, bring his work to Voies-Off this year. Inspired by history and informed by his Swiss-Japanese ancestry, his photographs are an attempt to recreate ephemeral memories from his own hazy recollections of childhood, and the vivid but detached memories of his grandparents as they witnessed World War II.

Favrod uses found images, both personal and historical, to provide the foundation of his photographic memory-montages. He adds his own visual commentary to the photos in the form of awkward geometric shapes and patterns and jarring bursts of color, creating scenes that are oddly evocative of a concrete moment in history, reconstructed through the often-unstable lens of memory.

Favrod's work, while just a fraction of the photography on display at Voies-Off, does exemplify the kind of innovative and challenging work the festival strives to support. Layered and quietly confrontational, Favrod brings an intellectual edge to his beautifully composed and, at times, haunting photos, inviting viewers to interpret his personal history while confronting them with a very real vision of the past. It's a graceful mash-up of memory and mystery — a body of work perfectly suited to show at Arles.

      Libération Magazine
      David Favrod, un pont nippon
      par Brigitte Ollier
      May 2013
      Le jeune photographe helvético-japonais expose à Paris son projet «Gaijin», quête identitaire d'un artiste façonné par deux cultures.
      En trente photographies, David Favrod, 30 ans, fait le point sur son existence entre deux pays. L'un, le Japon, le pays de sa mère qu'il a connu enfant et en été, lors des vacances ; l'autre, la Suisse, fief de son père, où il a grandi à Vionnaz, un village valaisan à l'abri des montagnes, à 45 kilomètres de Lausanne. Lausanne où il a fait ses études supérieures à l'Ecal (Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne), où s'enseignent culturemultimédia, photographie, design, graphisme, etc. C'est d'ailleurs là, en 2009, au dernier semestre de son bachelor, qu'il a imaginé Gaijin («l'étranger»).
      «J'avais envie de m'intéresser à quelque chose de personnel, à un sujet qui résonnerait en moi, explique David Favrod. Et, du coup, j'ai commencé Gaijin, épaulé par mes professeurs, Natacha Lesueur et Marco Poloni.Moi, je me sens un mix des deux cultures, suisse et japonaise, c'est ce mélange qui m'a façonné et cette dualité qui me nourrit.» Cette quête d'identité s'est enracinée à sa majorité, quand il s'est vu refuser la double nationalité par l'ambassade nipponne. Parle-t-il japonais? Il l'a oublié; sa mère a favorisé la langue de Molière, par ricochet. Mais il l'a surligné sur sa liste des choses à faire prochainement: réapprendre le japonais et lire le dernier roman d'Osamu Hashimoto, le Pèlerinage, qui vient de sortir chez Actes Sud.
      La photographie de David Favrod est attachante par le soin qu'il prodigue à la fabriquer, avec ses couleurs épicées et cette ambiance chargée d'inconstance. Il y a beaucoup d'autoportraits et des archives familiales, des visages maquillés et d'autres fanés, des oiseaux de papier et des dragons. Il y a le temps qui file, et aucune hostilité envers le passé. Confirmation : «C'est un enrichissement, plus qu'un réconfort, de chercher des réponses à son identité. L'autoportrait, que j'ai plutôt pratiqué au début, me sert de point d'ancrage dans ce que j'essaie de raconter. C'est une réflexion où je m'implique et le fait d'y être intégré, physiquement, me donne du poids, enfin je crois.» Sur un carnet, il inscrit les lieux trouvés par hasard, en Suisse ou ailleurs, où il aimerait se mettre en scène, lui ou les amis qui participent à Gaijin. Par exemple, une vieille bâtisse à moitié habitée, pas loin de chez lui, a servi de cadre pour un autoportrait dans une baignoire. Il se pose des questions pour certaines photographies, quand d'autres coulent de source, «spontanément». Pour l'accrochage à la galerie La Petite Poule Noire, à Paris, qui fête avec lui sa troisième année d'ouverture, il a dessiné un plan précis. Certaines images sont à même le mur, d'autres encadrées et sous verre.
      «Je travaille la composition en fonction de l'espace et de ma sélection. Je pense à la séquence, la relation entre les images et au rythme, par le choix des espacements ou l'alternance des formats. Je favorise une lecture dynamique.»
      Gaijin n'a pas de fin programmée. C'est un work in progress, une aventure exclusive qu'il nourrit petit à petit, sans traverser cette suite de miroirs qui s'offre à lui, silencieusement, tel un passage invisible.
      La Petite Poule Noire Gallery
      April 2013
      Inquiétante étrangeté, ou la quête identitaire d'un artiste helvético-japonais

L'oeuvre de David Favrod, jeune photographe helvético-japonais porte la richesse de l'alliance de deux mondes. D'un balancement entre deux cultures, il tire la spécificité d'une quête identitaire poétique et subtile.

Gaijin, exposé à La petite poule noire, regroupe plusieurs séries, signifie l'Étranger. C'est ce sentiment permanent d'étrangeté qui tenaille l'artiste, lui ouvrant la porte sur un univers à part. Il travaille sur l'extériorisation de ses états d'âme dans des mises en scène d'une infinie délicatesse, dont les multiples niveaux de lecture nous plongent dans une compréhension bien plus profonde que la seule émotion esthétique suscitée par la beauté de l'image.

Les couleurs délicates de l'oeuvre de Favrod en appellent autant à la tradition picturale européenne qu'à une codification purement nippone dans leur interprétation. Beaucoup de masques, d'autoportraits grimés (ainsi cet autoportrait à la baignoire où l'artiste se dépeint dans un intérieur européen comme en atteste l'antique baignoire à pied ou le papier peint désuet, le visage grimé de rouge comme une divinité shintoïque, le cou encerclé de cordes, le regard perdu braqué dans celui du spectateur), des photographies des membres de sa famille retravaillées, des sumos européens, des geishas rêveuses dans des intérieurs ravagés, des paysages grouillants et fantasmatiques, de délicates constructions de papiers s'évadant par des carreaux cassés : c'est la mise en scène d'un terrain de lutte et de confrontation de traditions qui s'opposent, s'annulent, se renvoient l'une l'autre à l'infini dans le miroir de l'âme de l'artiste.

Ses séries qui se mêlent, se suivent, se complètent et s'enrichissent participent d'un même récit fictionnalisé et sont un outil affiché d'une quête identitaire, où les autoportraits impliquent un rapport intime et solitaire à soi-même. Les questionnements de l'artiste, si personnels qu'ils touchent à l'universel, créent dans l'ordinaire une fantaisie discrète et malicieuse, parfois tragique. Dans un va-et-vient aérien entre photo plasticienne et image documentaire, c'est la naissance d'une individualité qu'il nous présente.

      Hebdo Magazine
      Entre deux mondes
      par Luc Debraine
      April 2013
      David Favrod interroge ses racines suisses et japonaises dans un travail artistique qui suscite de l'intérêt, et des louanges, en Europe et aux Etats-Unis.
      Qui suis-je? La question mène depuis 2009 le travail de David Favrod, 31 ans, avec une finesse de propos qui lui vaut déjà une reconnaissance internationale. En cette fin d'avril, le jeune Romand expose ses images dans une galerie parisienne et au Festival de mode et de photographied'Hyères. Il sera plus tard à Berlin, puis à Santa Fe, au Nouveau-Mexique, où il vient d'obtenir un prix important.
      David Favrod (sans rapport de parenté avec le fondateur du Musée de l'Elysée Charles-Henri Favrod) est né à Kobe d'un père suisse et d'une mère japonaise. A 6 mois, il quitte l'archipel avec sa famille pour s'établir à Vionnaz, dans le Chablais valaisan. Comme son père est souvent absent, il est surtout élevé par sa mère. La culture japonaise infuse d'autant plus en lui. A 18 ans, David Favrod demande un passeport japonais auprès de l'ambassade à Berne. Il lui est refusé, le Japon n'accordant pas la double nationalité.
      S'ensuit un malaise identitaire: le jeune homme étant pris pour un Japonais en Suisse, et pour un «gaijin», un étranger, dans son pays natal, où il retourne parfois. De cette crise identitaire, David Favrod décide de faire une recherche visuelle, artistique surtout, documentaire un peu. «J'ai suivi la formation de l'Ecal à Lausanne, en photographie et direction artistique, note-t-il. Pendant mes études, les thèmes des projets à réaliser étaient imposés. En revanche, le choix du sujet pour le travail de diplôme était libre. C'est là que j'ai décidé de questionner ma double appartenance.»
      La quête identitaire, l'exploration de la mémoire et l'utilisation documentaire ou fictionnelle d'archives est l'un des grands courants de l'art contemporain aujourd'hui. David Favrod s'inscrit dans cette tendance avec une pudeur, une inventivité et une subtilité qui façonnent une oeuvre assez unique, entre deux mondes. Il est allé voir ses grandsparents au Japon, recueillant leurs récits de guerre, le souvenir des bombes atomiques, l'évocation des contes, des légendes et du folklore du pays, les souvenirs personnels. David Favrod a puisé dans ses photos de famille aussi bien que dans les codes et techniques de l'art extrême-oriental. Il a utilisé l'autoportrait, la mise en scène, la nature morte, le paysage, la retouche, le maquillage, des vues par satellite.
      Écheveau de souvenirs. C'est ainsi, en s'emparant des souvenirs et des savoirs des autres, qu'il a recréé son propre Japon dans le Bas-Valais. Un pays qui n'existe pas, comme lui-même peine à exister aux yeux des uns et des autres, à chaque bout de la course du Soleil. Sur l'une de ses images, on le voit dans une baignoire et une pièce typiquement occidentales. Mais lui est métamorphosé en homme-poulpe, le visage peint en rouge comme une divinité shinto, un regard interrogatif adressé au spectateur. Sur une autre photo, une petite fille casquée d'une pastèque découpée et le visage grimé de rouge se tient dans un champ de roseaux et nous regarde, elle aussi. Elle invoque le souvenir d'une aïeule morte très jeune, pendant la guerre au Japon. Sa famille, la croyant déshydratée, lui donnait des pastèques à manger. Mais c'est de sel qu'elle était privée.
      David Favrod mêle son écheveau de souvenirs par étapes. Sa première série s'appelle Gaijin (l'étranger), la deuxième Omoide Poroporo (les souvenirs goutte à goutte), la troisième Hikari (lumière). Il les travaille en parallèle, bien décidé à multiplier les pistes pour ses voies artistique et personnelle. Sa fabrique d'images se remplit peu à peu, d'un Fuji Yama aperçu dans les Alpes, d'un lutteur de sumo, de forêts surnaturelles, d'oiseaux en origami, d'un pilote de chasseur zéro au bord du Rhône. C'est souriant et triste à la fois, énigmatique tout le temps. C'est très personnel et très universel. Poétique, surtout.
      Perrier Foundation
      David Favrod: Living Under Twin Suns
      by Christian J. Petersen
      September 2012
      David Favrod was born in Japan and raised in Switzerland by a Japanese mother and Swiss father. When he was 18 he applied for dual citizenship from the Japanese Embassy, but was rejected. The desire to prove the equal importance of his mixed heritage lead him to attempt to define his identity through his photography. His epic, award-winning series 'Gaijin' (meaning foreign or alien) is the result. The collision of his two worlds creates an enigmatic new one, both familiar and transcendent. Stories, memories, dreams, journeys, culture (ancient and modern) merge to form a unique and deeply personal place. David agreed to help guide us through it.
      Is it possible to define how each culture has influenced your work?
      My bi-cultural education is the essence of my inspiration. The majority of my inspiration comes from around and within me. I do not think I could tell you how each culture has influenced my work. Rather it's the mix of these two cultures that influence it.
      Could your work be seen as postcards from a 'hidden' fantasy world ?
      I think that fantasy world is not hidden, it simply appears differently in the eyes of each other.
      Which fairytales did you enjoy as a child?
      Like all children I loved fairytales. Especially a book that my mother had bought to me and my sister. I don't remember the exact name but it should be something like The Most Beautiful Swiss Tales. It was an illustrated book with tapes that told us stories. It was magical! I spent hours and hours listening these tapes!
      I see a connection between some of your work and classic Japanese horror films like 'Onibaba' and even 'The Ring'. Are you a fan of horror?
      No, I'm not a big fan of horror movies. But they are a good source of inspiration. I love the simplicity of the Japanese horror films and especially how water, hair or a small child can scare us.
      You often seem to be telling  stories through your work? What motivates this?
      My interest in the construction of fictional stories comes from my dreams and my reading. A natural need. A need to escape.
      What is you favourite Yōkai (supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore)?
      Betobeto-san is one of my favorites. If you've ever been walking at night and heard strange footsteps following you, only to turn around terrified, and find nothing there, you've encountered the yōkai known in Nara Prefecture as Betobeto-san. It's said that if you stand to the side of the road and say "Betobeto-san, please go on ahead " then the footsteps will stop and you can continue walking in peace.
      Humble Art Foundation
      by Gesche Wurfel
      October 2011
      Swiss-Japanese photographer David Favrod draws his inspiration from his bi-cultural upbringing as well as from his dreams and the stories he reads. In his work, he explores the notion of identity and belonging. In this interview, he talks more about his photographic approach and the series Gaijin for which he was awarded the Aperture Portfolio Prize 2010.
      The majority of your photographic series explore the notion of identity. How does photography help you explore and communicate identity issues?
      I'm 29, but I still have many parts of myself to be illuminated. There is still misunderstanding. For this research (my photographic series), I am trying to reduce them. I'm making some efforts on my way. I try to understand my motivations, what bothers me or on the contrary makes me dream. So I ask you this question: What do we really know of ourselves? I usually find it hard to speak about myself. I always stumble upon the paradoxes of who am I. The notion of identity occurred to me when Japan refused to give me dual citizenship. It is from this feeling of rejection and also from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as Swiss that this work Gaijin was created. I think that photography came to me naturally. It allows me to shape my own reality.
      Where do you draw your inspiration for your work from? How does your bi-cultural upbringing influence the subject matter of your work?
      The majority of my inspiration comes from around and within me. My bi-cultural education is the essence of my inspiration.
      Please tell us more about the series Gaijin. What is the project about? What made you create it? Please talk a bit more about the visual language that you have chosen.

Gaijin is a project that I began in 2009. I started it as my bachelor degree's project at the Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne and afterward extended the series. This first approach has brought together various topics that are important to me, for example the war stories of my grandparents, the correlation between Switzerland and Japan, the family archives, the stories that my mother told me when I was little, or the mountains. Gaijin is a fictional recital, a tool for my quest for identity, where auto-portraits imply an intimate and solitary relationship that I have with myself. The mirror image is frozen in a figurative alter ego that serves as an anchor point.

The image of the window with the paper birds is about the woman Sadako who at her home close to Ground Zero when the atom bomb was dropped in Hiroshima in 1945. Years later, she developed leukemia and was hospitalized in 1955 and given a year to live. She died in 1955 aged 12. During a hospital visit Sadako's best friend folds an origami crane as an old Japanese story says that who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. As Sadako didn't manage to fold all 1,000 cranes, her friends folded the remaining ones and buried them with her. With this image I want to speak about the war and the atomic bomb but in a more lyrical way.

After Gaijin, in 2010, I produced the work Omoide Poroporo, a self-published book which was distribued by Kodoji Press. It is a mix of my pictures and archives of and from my family, and now I am producing a series with Yokais as the main subject. Yokais are supernatural creatures that shift shapes and are very common in Japanese folklore. They can look almost like humans, often they have animal features, but they can also have no recognizable features at all.

      Where does your interest in constructing fictional stories derive? What are you trying to achieve? And what responses are you trying to evoke from the viewer?
      My interest in the construction of fictional stories comes from my dreams and my readings. A natural need. A need to escape. I do not think I can provide answers to the audience. My work is a proposal, an invitation.
      Stimultania Gallery
      by Barbara Hyvert
      April 2011

D’un père suisse et d’une mère japonaise, David Takashi Favrod baigne dans ces deux cultures et se nourrit de leurs images. Le Japon c’est son enfance, un héritage d’histoires et de souvenirs, mais aussi ses origines. Un artiste suisse et japonais ? Un artiste suisse. Il ne peut obtenir la double nationalité. Un mot, un sentiment, s’imposent alors à lui. Gaijin. Étranger. Avec son exposition, David Favrod nous livre ses réflexions sur son identité japonaise et sur les liens qu’il entretient avec ce pays. Il imagine et crée son propre Japon, dont il expose ici des images sensibles et personnelles, aux sujets et au caractère apparemment japonais. Gaijin est une série photographique témoin de sa quête d’identité, mais aussi une porte ouverte sur un pays imaginaire, le reflet d’un univers onirique et un parcours dans un récit fictionnel ludique et émouvant.

Savamment étudiées et minutieusement mises en scène, les photographies nous présentent des images aux motifs japonisants, aux thèmes et aux compositions empreints de clichés. Puisant son inspiration dans l’histoire du Japon et dans des anecdotes familiales, David Favrod détourne la culture populaire et traditionnelle, le monde de l’art et celui, fantastique, des Kaïju et des Yôkaï, tout en s’appropriant des stéréotypes pour façonner sa vision du Japon. Et il fouille, il étudie et interroge des images d’archives pour proposer un regard authentique et réel. Une intention vouée à l’échec. Au détour des cimaises, on découvre ici un valeureux Samouraï à l’armure en carton, une humble geisha et là des oiseaux en origami, légers et immatériels, un imposant Sumo occidental, des paysages romantiques suisses aux allures d’estampes japonaises qui se découpent sur un fond coloré, et encore des masques de Nô, des portraits figés et atemporels et des images d’archives. D’une image à l’autre, l’artiste nous plonge dans une atmosphère visuelle et connotée, qui brouille la frontière entre réalité et imaginaire.

Chaque image a son histoire. Chaque sujet est choisi avec sagacité. Telles les pièces d’un puzzle, les photographies s’assemblent les unes aux autres jusqu’à reconstituer les souvenirs et le Japon de l’artiste. En résulte, un Japon occidentalisé, transformé et totalement recomposé. En filigrane, des références à la guerre, à la bombe atomique d’Hiroshima et à leurs ravages ; des références, tantôt perceptibles, tantôt discrètes et subtiles qui dévoilent un discours sombre sous-jacent ; une atmosphère grave. Une menace latente ? Explorant d’étranges lumières, David Favrod souligne les contras- tes de couleurs et confère aux œuvres une aura mélancolique. Les ambiances sont silencieuses, les images mystérieuses, le temps n’est plus. Entre harmonie et équilibre, Gaijin s’impose comme une série énigmatique.

Une note d’exotisme. Un brin de nostalgie. Un rendu poétique. Une série ambivalente. Incertain, le public s’interroge. Il semble reconnaître le Japon de David Favrod, mais il reste confronté à un monde curieusement inconnu ; un monde qui se retranche der- rière des mystères et des histoires restées en suspens. Étranger. Gaijin. Plus qu’une œuvre délicate et lyrique, plus qu’une interprétation naïve et parodique du Japon, Gaijin présente des images détournées qui posent la question de l’alter ego et interroge la complexité des relations entre le soi, l’image et la mémoire.