This is one of the last photographs I took of Biarritz. I lived there for a month and took many photos but have only uploaded the handful you’ve seen here (and only have a handful left that I’d like to share). Despite how much time I had to familiarise myself with the city, I struggled to photograph it, more so than many places I’ve been. I couldn’t find whatever it was I was looking for. My body—or my eye, I’m not sure who leads—was constantly drawn to the sea and you can see the way it trickles into nearly every photo I took, even when I tried to avoid it. The architecture of the city didn’t interest me, at least compared to the other Basque locations I would visit: it was uniform and with few intricacies, pertaining to the all-encompsing resort vibe. It was stringently oppositional to the rugged coastline, whose palimpsestic cliff faces were one of the only clues of this region’s historic importance as a shipping strait. I did photograph these things, but all of it only felt partially representational of the land before me; something was missing.
I couldn’t get to grips with the light but did tread in the city’s colours: greens, blues, whites, creams, terracottas. I spent a lot of time amongst the surfers and also exploring the heavenly delicacies of the table. Why not photograph such things? My lived experience of the city. In this case, it’s not so much ‘why not’, but ‘how’. How to frame them in a way that felt personal and not simply Instagram-worthy?
Writing this now I’m struck with an onset of nostalgia. A desire to be there, without wanting to be there permanently (TC). What I struggled to capture through my lens—perhaps what the city intends—led to a great deal more introspection, much needed after my five months living in Paris. The outward looking camera always turns in.
Biarritz, May 2017.