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From the 2014 VICE Photo Issue: Zoë Le Ber

We talked to artist and filmmaker Zoë Le Ber about her creative background, the role of history in her work, and the power of spirituality.

This image of a pool on Mars ran in the 2014 VICE photo issue. French filmmaker and artist Zoë Le Ber made it, and it's part of a series that combines images of landscapes with unexpected elements to create situations that might at end up looking fantastical, at least in the moment. We asked Zoë a few questions about her work to give us some more context, and ended up quickly getting into some big questions, like what the future will look like, the importance of spirituality in art making, and inventing new dimensions.


VICE: So Zoë, tell me a little bit about your creative background.

Zoë Le Ber: I started photographing when I was 14. I’m part of this generation who started photography with the first digital camera on the market. I am self taught, though I consider my education to be from photographers work I was exposed to. I was an avid art viewer, travelling to museums all over. With digital photography, I find it is easier to transform or at least to question reality through manipulation. For me, photography and filmmaking are inseparable. One leads me to the other one.

It would seem in both your films and your collage work that you have an interest in creating fantastical situations.  One way you do this is through combination of common landscapes and unexpected elements.  What makes a compelling narrative in your mind?

I like to invent new dimensional worlds, to propose something else, an alternative to what it is commonly considered as "the truth". People trust it too much. I always think everything could be so different. I'm searching for the invisible. For the series of desert photographs, I was driving around in Morocco in totally desolate areas. It looked breathtakingly empty and vast and I wondered about the sea that used to be laying there, about all the underground energy that was ready to burst out and how it would look in centuries. I just imagined an other possibility. Why not considering a swimming pool on Mars? If I could show you a picture of NYC in two hundreds years, you would probably tell me that it is a fantastical situation.


So histories are important to you?

In what sense?

You are juxtaposing relics from different civilizations into one unified scene.  

I like this idea, yes. Art is the perfect link that put together civilizations; it is also what remains. I like to confuse or combined seemingly unrelated histories.

So what do you think the future holds? Is your work a way of expressing different possibilities?

Yes, exactly, possibilities. I’m wondering where the future is hidden. Does it exist already? It’s funny I’m currently working on premonition, premeditation.

I was going ask whether you thought your work had a psychic element to it.

Yes, I think it is important to consider it in a psychic, spiritual way, even if it’s an odd concept. It’s an escape from reality.

You could think about the process of making an artwork in psychic dimensions. An artwork is basically a proposal for a potentiality that has yet to be realized.

It’s true. Even before it is actually happening, you’re considering different possibilities. It’s wide open. The interesting thing is to integrate as many possibilities into the work’s material existence. Finally, it is a question of interpretation, each interpretation convenes the past, the present and the future.

Can you tell me about your artistic influences?

I just recently discovered Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films and was actually lucky enough to meet him personally. He talked to me about this his unrealized production ideas for the film adaptation of Dune, an influential science fiction novel. He said, “In my mind I made Dune, it’s done, it exists”. This idea is very beautiful to me.


I am a proponent of the belief that the real work of the artist is in the immaterial construction of ideas, and that the labor of translating that into a material existence, into a photograph, is secondary. How do you decide what form your ideas will take?

I agree, it is secondary but it is also what remains, what finally exists.  Actually, you make me think about how splendid the world would be wherein you could see or read people’s spirits.

Spirituality is clearly very important to you. Can you talk about what it means to you?

It is the wind that blows in every soul, it is the intrinsic substance. It is what will save humankind.

See Zoë Le Ber's film work on Vimeo

Check out the rest of the 2014 VICE photo issue here