Cyril Costilhes – The Pond

I met Cyril through Flickr a few years ago, probably in HCSP. Like many of us he was just starting his exploration of photography. Over the last couple years he has periodically emailed me a few photographs from his project The Pond, along with some thoughts he was having about photography, the internet, the project, life and how it all fit together.

On each occasion, I told him I wanted to run a feature on LPV, but he always said no because he wasn’t ready and felt he needed more time to explore the project. It’s been interesting watching it evolve from through the perspective of personal correspondences. I could see how he’d incorporate his thoughts, ideas and experiences into the project, which would inevitably lead to it evolving in a new direction.

As I’ve discussed in the past, I’m interested in how we share projects on the web, and how that impacts the way an audience views the work. What I’ve found interesting in my discussions with Cyril is that he’s very sensitive to how the project will be perceived and interpreted on the web. This is the project that he’s fully committed himself to for the long run, and he knows that he eventually wants it to become a book.

As I do each time he writes, I asked if he wanted to show the project on LPV. This time he agreed and wrote down some of his thoughts about the project. I wouldn’t view this as an artist statement, but rather a short journey into the mind of a photographer whose still very much working out how he wants to shape and evolve his project and his photography.

- Bryan

Photographs and Text by Cyril Costilhes – Saint-Raphael, France

My process with ‘The Pond’ involves deep personal symbols around my childhood landscapes. It started first as a “documentary” piece around a pond and since then it has been drifting into an emotionally abstract labyrinth, primal and metaphoric, trying to stay as close as possible to my truth, my nervous system, my heart.

I cover a zone over and over not knowing exactly what I’m looking for, just responding photographically to my surroundings. It took me a year to realize I had to use flash to get closer to the point. It helped me also to isolate things, isolate myself. The editing process is very important and very few images survive, my aim being to peel things down to their absolute primal core.

Photography came late in my life and since I started pursuing it seriously, it has helped me deal with my emotions and obsessions. I have trouble communicating. Photography is the best way I’ve found to deal with myself and my relation to the world, time and death.

It is this tiny link that helps me stay “on track.” Photography is also my distance to the world. I’m trying to create a raw mythology of my own…trying…it is hard to articulate such a quest and panic sets in when I do. But deep down the energy is there and I have no choice but to keep searching. I trust my gut on this project and know many new pieces will complete this dislocated puzzle I’m playing with.

I’ve been struggling to portray humans. How to do it my way? I think I’m starting to let go of what you’re expected to do, the trap of following contemporary photography trends and following known languages. Will I succeed? Probably not. But I’m searching as I’m trying to make sense of my life. They go hand in hand.

The struggle has been to keep the right energy going and making sense of all those fragments you collect along the way.

My dad has front lobe dementia following a motor accident. This has also been deeply influencing this work. Him being heavily brain damaged, locked in, drugged up. His inability to communicate made me question reality to a greater level. Plus my relation with him has always been complicated with many untold things that I needed to hear. Finding out the answers to cope with this haunts me.

As for the near future, there is a rock connected to the pond with a religious history and a hermit that has been living in a cave there for 50 years. It is a rock I visited many times as a kid as it’s on the way to my mother’s family village. This is the plan. Explore religious myths. I had a religious upbringing and attended Catholic school for three years which caused me to totally lose faith.

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I could only draw a simple house upside down. Then I would reverse the page. I just couldn’t draw it normally. This has stayed with me all my life and has become a big question mark: What does it mean? What was I revolting against? My upbringing? Was I already questioning reality?

A child’s drawing of an upside down house. I want this symbol as the center piece for the project; a metaphor for the quest and struggle of finding your own way in a chaotic world.

  • Axel Stevens

    Eh, yeah back already…I’m looking and looking, scrolling up and down….the more I think about it…it’s all about doing your own thing, perceverance…developing your own “vision” and not somebody else’s…learning to “see” and recognize your own style. Against whatever convention. And most of all it is all about being true to one’s self. How do you know this ? Me personally I’m constantly doubting myself

  • Axel Stevens

    Thanks for showing this work on LVP. This guy has his own voice. It shows through in almost all of the photographs.
    I see heaps of work on the net (maybe this isn’t such a good idea as it sometimes distracts me too much) and a lot of it is same ol’ same ol’ or indeed following the latest craze or hype. This work however works inspiring instead of distracting ;-) A distinct photographic language is evolving here.