From a harrowing exploration of prostitute’s rooms in the series Two star hotel to a study of Japan’s abandoned radioactive roads in Lost Highway through Google Earth, French photographer Florian Ruiz captures life at its most remote, his subject matter strikingly distant from society as we are accustomed to seeing it in the Western world.
Aiming to express the atmosphere, feelings, and sensations of desolate locations, Ruiz demonstrates a propensity for locating people and places with backstories just as interesting as the pictures that result from his studies:
“I try to capture the in-between, life at the margins, and borderlines of lives and places.”
Ruiz’s portfolio has a distinct Eastern flavour, with galleries compiled in China, Mongolia, Pakistan and various locations in Japan available to view on his website.
Fukushima, Invisible Pain, a series of photographs which took second place at the Sony World Photography Awards 2013 (professional conceptual category) visually communicates the stillness and ghostly tension that surrounded the eponymous prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster; moving comfortably across a variety of photographic styles, Ruiz demonstrates the creative use of a pin hole camera on long exposure in this particular series, making for evocative, eerily distorted compositions.
Exploring similar themes to those found in his Fukushima studies, Brezhnev’s Gift is an insight into the lives of Mongolia’s Erdenet inhabitants, their existence poised between dreams of a better life and the reality of the unsustainable mining activity the town they choose to inhabit was built upon in the 70s. Ruiz’s images hint at the futility of everyday life, a poignant lethargic stasis looming over every shot; the viewer is left unsure whether to admire or weep for the resilience of humanity.
Ruiz’s most recent study tells of the lives of those dwelling on the borders of China’s major cities, a collection of images as colourful and eclectic as the subjects they present; entitled Borderlands, the series juxtaposes scenic panoramas with a mix of intimate and action-filled portraits, paralleling life and the landscapes on which it transpires.
Ruiz has been published and exhibited widely since 2005, regularly popping up in photography magazines and journals, including a spot in the 2010 British Journal of Photography; he currently lives and works in Tokyo.