"My home is my castle" is a popular saying that has been attributed to the Englishman Sir Edward Coke. It attributes a private sphere to the home, setting it apart from the public space. Comparing houses with castles lends stability to the house: a castle is characterised by its solid foundation and sturdy walls. Houses symbolise man's sedentariness...
That said, this reflection does not align with Laurent Chéhère's vision. He lets houses soar, like rooftops held by filigree lines, ripping them from their static state and likewise out of their real context, which coincides with the 19th and 20th arrondissement in Paris. The newly gained freedom appears to change not just the character of the house - Chéhère's buildings suddenly appear light and sometimes a little fragile - it also elevates the tangible objects from a level of reality to a level of utopia. In this respect, the manipulated photographs harbour an element of criticism, since it is the drifting away from the familiar that at the same time makes the familiar visible. The house façades are the faces of past construction periods, unveiling tangible traces of time, signs of decay. The testimony of the images suddenly appears far removed from the symbolic protective function usually attributed to houses.
Nevertheless, the "Flying Houses" are much more than time-worn façades. Windows provide an insight into the interior living of these houses. They not only bring to light more stories, they also reveal the author's love of detail. His image series features quotations from the history of film and encapsulates the typical atmosphere of Belleville and Ménilmontant, with their heterogeneous character and multicultural backdrops.
Since the French botanist Patrick Blanc has already transferred entire gardens into vertical spaces, would flying houses appear too far removed from reality? And we have the National Geographic Channel showing us how a house can indeed be lifted from the ground by balloons and swept away.
In this respect, the "Flying Houses" approach the genre of science fiction: they combine nostalgia and futuristic vision. The homage to the past is reflected in the aesthetic of the structural heritage. Adventure and dreaming, dramatic art and poetry reveal the influence of Hayao Miyazaki's work. While the flight of the houses remains fiction, the magic emanating from it is real and tantalising.
Flying House: Vin Marshall, Paul Carson, Eric Gocke / Produced by DARLOW SMITHSON PRODUCTIONS for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS / 2011 NGC Network International, LLC and NGC Network US, LLC
Reference to the 2004 animation film Howl's Moving Castle directed by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki based on the eponymous novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle).