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Crowds and cities

Isabelle Grosse-Mileo has developed a personal visual process called “Outlining”, in which she frames groups (crowds, cities, objects, landscapes…) within her photographs to reveal collective forms

At first, she has been photographing urban landscapes, from higher ground. She reprocesses her pictures on the computer by methodically outlining the arrangement of the volumes in space according to the following rule: for each volume, only its largest facet is being outlined

This rule of local approximation helps to construct an overall interpretative structure that underlines the lay-out of the volumes and accounts for the morphology of the urban environment. Superimposed, this structure empties the landscape of part of its semantic content: one forgets about the place and just keeps the morphology


In a like manner, the artist deals with other types of spatial arrangements (crowd, cemetery, docks, computer maps, waste ground, landscaped garden… ) with the idea to draw analogies with conventional urban structures. This interplay allows everyone to work out for themselves a critical interpretation of the arrangement of space in the world today

« Isabelle Grosse’s approach consists specifically in outlining the various figurative and objective elements that form the subjects of her photographs. Those ones are self-descriptive, such as each individual in a crowd, or each tower in the urban landscape. Such a working principle focusses as much on a structured analysis of space of the chosen motif, examined in its whole, as on the local relationships that exist with its surroundings. By isolating each of the chosen image’s figurative elements within the fine outline of a parallelogram, open at the bottom, she creates a new image that becomes like a reversal of existing reality. In so doing, she underlines « kinds of spaces » -as Françoise-Aline Blain has judiciously noted – alluding to Georges Perec, whose eponymous work admits us to the abyss of a spatial declension. The play on words used by the latter echoes the play of images used by the former, the artist taking pleasure in multiplying these elements to confound our habitual perspectives. Lines in front of museums, car parking, TV programs audiences, spectators at a football match, etc…., Isabelle Grosse’s art is required by the crowd, for her separation of the individual allows us to better seethe whole. »  Philipe Piguet in « The composed images », A month of images in Ho Chi Minh city.

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