I tried to leave Paris and lived for two years in the countryside. This series of photographs is the product of what I felt each time I came to Paris during this period. I was particularly sensitive to noise, stress and violence present in the city’s stations. This was concentrated at rush hour when people hurry home after a hard day’s work. Within our society and especially cities we are part of a machine. In a job we fulfill a function and if we don’t do it somebody else will. We arrive on time and leave on time. We eat on time and even crap on time. We do what we are told and others do what we tell them. We are an interface for technology staring at a screen or speaking into a phone. In Saint Lazare station, fifteen seconds before a train leaves a red rectangle lights up and a bell rings. This is the signal for all those who want to catch this train to run like mad. A station employee pushes on a button and people go mad, pushing others out of the way, shouting, sprinting, and falling over each other. To test the system’s efficiency I asked the station employees to push the button two minutes before a train’s departure and the result was the same. In these photographs I also wanted to underline that in France one cannot publish sombody’s photograph without their written approval. The white rectangular masks, which take after the red alarm rectangles, hide peoples’ faces so I don’t have to ask for their permission. These people become anonymous, part of a machine that react when you push a button.
As my approach to this series of photographs is violent I had to suffer too. Therefore I wanted to work in totally the opposite way that I usually do. Normally I work in close collaboration with the people I photograph. It is an intimate moment. My camera is on a tripod. I use natural light and I take many films of the same person. In Saint Lazare station I stole all of these images with an enormous flash held on top of my camera. People only knew I had photographed them once I had flashed them. Most were furious but they couldn’t say anything otherwise they would miss their train. Once the films were developped I used a computer, which I have never done in the past, to put the white rectangles over their eyes.