Photographic Alphabet: 'F' is for Vincent Fournier
By Leah Pfenning
French photographer, Vincent Fournier’s series Brasilia showcases the audacious architecture of Brazil’s utopian-esque capital city. Fournier’s photography, hosting an eerie air of the city’s stark landscape, is a visual exegesis of sorts of Brasilia’s fascinating history.
The capital city, built in just 41 months from 1956 to its official inauguration in 1960, was part of an effort to make the capital of Brazil more centrally located, geographically speaking. Brasilia is the aesthetic brainchild of urban planner, Lúcio Costa and architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Coming to fruition during the era of the Cold War, much of the city planning reflects a utopian ideal of a city globalized with the victorious allies of World War II, namely the Exio Monumental (Monumental Axis) that strongly resembles the shape of an aircraft, a talisman-like symbol of the war.
Brasilia is a city of 20th century ideals. Niemeyer said, “The ultimate task of the architect is to dream. Otherwise nothing happens.” Fournier’s curiosity for these manifested late-century dreams delivers a rattling sense of presence. The meticulous attention to detail and the stark contrast of the composition in Fournier’s photos suspends a feeling of foreboding over everything we see as modern. Looking at constructions of the past that were, at the time, constructions of the future, makes us question the sustainability of our own constructs of what's to come.
The capital city’s three-dimensionally constructed fantasies of the future quiver in the test of time. Ideals, utopia, and dreams are not singular; they’re not exclusive, and they don’t conform to dimensions, Brasilia has taught us that much. Fournier’s work asks us to consider that our own future is as elusive and unplannable. Forward momentum is inevitable; perhaps the energy is best focused on the now.