Available within public spaces, the Photomaton booth is a privileged place for exploring our identity. It is also a creative space where artists can explore the automaticity of the machine. Between 1992 and 2002, Olivier Despicht (1968-), a photographer from Lille, produced a collection of over 140 photo-booth images as part of his formal research into the portrait.
As a student at the Saint-Luc School of Fine Arts, he chose the photo booth for a compulsory exercise in self-portraiture. The booth became a space for staging the self. Over the course of the sessions, Olivier Despicht learned to master the machine: he checked the framing in the glass reflection and knew how long it would take to trigger the shutter. With the help of the technician responsible for maintaining the camera, he also experimented with the colour rendering of the prints, whose saturated tones lent a surreal dimension to the series.
For his project focused on representing couples, Olivier Despicht opted, on the other hand, for the formal and standard simplicity of the Photomaton – now digital – for the juxtaposition of faces. The monochrome, quasi-uniform treatment of the series, along with the repetitive format of the identity portraits, highlight the variety of poses he crafted with the help of his partner, despite the cramped conditions of the booth. Over the years, these sessions, taken in a Photomaton when they went grocery shopping, bear witness to their intimate life. By involving his children, Olivier Despicht embraced the unpredictable, transforming the series into an original and unique family album.
Curated by Anne Lacoste, Director of the Institut pour la photographie