The photography of Maxime Ballesteros sits somewhere on the borders of reality, fantasy and nightmares. At the beginning of July 2017, Ballesteros collated a selection of his images and writing in a book entitled ‘Les Absents’, presenting a curated view of his artistic endeavours.
It’s a challenge to determine which of Ballesteros’s images are candid and which are contrived. As a consequence, observing his work often feels like attempting to pass a test. Ballesteros continually undermines our perception of reality in his high-energy, full-flash photography, simultaneously leaving everything and nothing to the imagination. He takes as his subjects half-naked figures, interactions in quieter corners of wild parties and objects laid out reminiscent of still-life paintings, exhibiting imagery steeped in symbolism, fulfilling classical merits of what makes an image but shifted to a contemporary setting. Never just a bystander to his encounters, Ballesteros is hidden from the frame but a definite presence extended through the shot, as his subjects can be seen to perform for him and sit tight in contorted positions. Through this, Ballesteros reveals an omniscient point of view–an ‘all seeing, all knowing’ eye into a world that, through photography, he invites us to get a glimpse of.
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