We often see statues emblazoned on postcards, framed in travel brochures or uploaded as tourist snapshots on social media. Images of these colossal figures focus almost entirely on the statues themselves, letting their surroundings fade into oblivion. Removed from daily life these stone giants seem almost normal, though their purely symbolic existence is removed from almost any other feature of the cityscape.
Photographer Fabrice Fouillet reveals how, through only a minor shift in perspective, the experience of viewing a monument is utterly transformed. In his series "Colosses," Fouillet photographs international landmarks in their native habitats, embraced by the landscapes that surround them. Captured from this unusual vantage point, the most familiar of sites gain a new feeling of strangeness, their alien proportions emphasized against the minuscule tourists and everyday buildings that surround them.
Don't be mistaken, this series isn't primarily about the mammoth magnitude of the eternal odes, but rather what they represent. "Although hugeness is appealing and exhilarating in its own right," Fouillet writes in his statement, "I was first intrigued by the human-sized desire behind these gigantic declarations." The artist expanded upon this hypothesis in an email to The Huffington Post. "These statues are in my opinion the expression of a deep human need to build gigantic declarations. A way of providing some exemplary pedagogy."
In these gargantuan idols we see the human desire to immortalize our heroes, raising them to a status that, if not divine, is at least set in stone. While in their immediate environments these statues seem almost natural, at least over time, when captured from a detached point of view, the absurdity of the oversized forms becomes glaring. "The human figure becomes almost insignificant soon as she enters the space of the statue," the artist explained.
From busts to full bodies, religious icons to political figures, the oversized icons swallow up their surroundings, illustrating our human impulse to create superhuman idols, achieving what we cannot. "I wanted human figures in the pictures because by definition the creature and its creator go together," he told Slate. "There is also the opposition of the lasting and the living, of the stone and the flesh, of power and vulnerability."
Take a look at Fouillet's work below and take a moment to absorb the strangeness of these stone beasts in contrast to the humdrum life that surrounds them. Do these photos change how you see these statues, and in turn those of us who made them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.