Art direction and stylist for photoshoot with photographer Chris Payne and dancer/choreographer Joshua Hubbard to create a sequence of images – Monsieur Ludique – to assist in the promotion of the closing exhibition for Cornerhouse, Playtime, named after the 1967 Jacques Tati film.
In the film, famous for its enormous set of a dizzying, modernist Paris, Tati stages a series of elaborate sight gags as a group of people explore the city’s baffling environment. “The star is the décor,” the director once noted – and it’s Tati’s innovative approach to décor and creative use of sound allows his trademark subtle, yet complex visual comedy to be realized.
For the exhibition, artists have drawn on the themes of the film to explore architecture, physical comedy, sound, movement and space. In response, the concept I chose for the photo shoot was to update Tati’s infamous Monsiur Hulot character with traces of Pee Wee Herman and Sid Vicious, embarking on a playful, preambulatory stroll of Manchester’s streets.
The locations were chosen to reflect both vintage and utopian backdrops as befits the movie, introducing the site-specific response to space that in turn reflects the artworks chosen to participate in the closing group show. In selecting Joshua Hubbard as our model, I was influenced by another Tati quote. At the time of making the movie, Tati said to film critic Roger Ebert, “Playtime is the big leap, the big screen. I’m putting myself on the line. Either it comes off or it doesn’t. There’s no safety net.”
Hopefully we captured something of that leap – we certainly split Joshua’s trousers across the crotch in the attempt!