Eleven Blowups, Sophie Ristelhueber's photography

Sophie Ristelhueber Eleven Blowups

Eleven Blowups #1, Middle East, 2006.

In these pictures, everything is true and false at the same time.

Eleven Blowups #5, Middle East, 2006.

Arles Salle a Manger 1, Eleven Blowups, 2006.

Eleven Blowups #6, Middle East, 2006

Eleven Blowups #3, Middle East, 2006.

Eleven Blowups #7, Middle East, 2006.

Eleven Blowups #10, Middle East, 2006.

Eleven Blowups #11, Middle East, 2006.

Eleven Blowups #9, Middle East, 2006

Artist's Statement

The raw material was video rushes from Iraq, taken by local Reuters correspondents, which I viewed at their London office. I was looking for pictures of the craters – the “tombs”– that open up in the ground in Iraq several times a week, or even a day.

Working on stills taken from the rushes, I put together my own pictures, using computer techniques to reconstruct scenes that were both real and imaginary, and incorporating elements of my own earlier work. This mix of material comes from different territories –Turkmenistan in 1997, Syria in 1999, Iraq in 2000, the West Bank in 2003/20004 – and reflects the vision of history as chaos that has haunted me since I worked in Beirut in 1982.

SR, 2006
Excerpts of an interview by Laure Vermeersch in Vacarme magazine (Paris) n°37, fall 2006.

My works often stems from real events. In mid-February last year, the ex-prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, was killed in a bomb explosion; everyone saw the televised image, a crate three times of my studio, it was unbelievable;

It made me think that this was how to treat Iraq, where bombs go off all the time. I tried to dismiss the idea, but it only got stronger. However, there is universality to the subject that goes beyond Iraq: after these car-bomb explosions, it’s as if the earth was sucked out from its centre. I am inspired by the idea of earth charged with history swallowing itself up. I have to think up a form that lets me consider all these comparisons at the same time. This work has meant mixing up so many images and obsessions that I’ve held onto for the last 25 years that I can now say that I have probably finished with these epics.

Some commentators have referred to work on ‘traces’. I would rather say a revealing of things, objects and lives that I shoot through buildings and architecture.

About the photographer


1949, France



Based in

Paris, France

Sophie Ristelhueber has continued a reflection on territory and its history for about thirty years, through a unique approach to the ruins and traces left by mankind in those places devastated by war or by natural and cultural upheaval. Far from the classical photo story, she strives to implement the bare act and the stamp of history on both the body and on the landscape, by rendering visible wounds and scars, veritable memories of the “acts” of history.

If she essentially turns to photography in her work, Sophie Ristelhueber utilizes her shooting to create full plastic works, playing with the material and the format of the image, its status, its framework and its installation in space.

Her work has been exhibited in numerous international institutions, among which MoMA (New York, US), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, US), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, US), The Power Plant (Toronto, CA), Tate Modern (London, GB), Imperial War Museum (London, GB), Biennial of Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Triennial of Etchigo-Tsumari, Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles, and in Paris, MNAM – Centre Pompidou, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Musée Zadkine, Musée Rodin, etc.