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Jonk, 33, Paris

My first solo trip changed my life. I was 19 and it was to Barcelona. I caught two viruses in the Catalan capital: traveling, I have since visited more than 60 countries; and urban art, I had already been practicing photography for a few years when the discovery of street art and graffiti gave me a photographic subject that still occupies me.

Living in Paris, I discovered urban exploration at the end of years 2000 through rooftops, subways and the city’s unofficial catacombs. At that time, I found another subject: documenting the unseen side of the city. Climbing roofs to see her from the top, going at night in subway tunnels or spending whole days underground in the catacombs exploring the tens of kilometers of galleries looking for beautiful carved rooms: I found in that activity a thrill, the adrenaline that I have been looking for in my life. These urban explorations, and my search for unseen graffiti, brought me to abandoned places, where graffiti artists often go to paint, to be alone and able to take time to make bigger and better paintings.  After some time frequenting these artists, I started myself to paint there and that’s actually the reason why I adopted the nickname “Jonk”.  At that time, I also stuck my travel pictures on the walls in the streets.

Visiting abandoned places looking for graffiti, I realized the intensity of the atmospheres and the beauty of the spectacle of time passaging: rust, decaying and peeling painted walls, broken windows, Nature taking back create unbelievable, highly photogenic sceneries. For me, such sceneries felt like infinite poetry.

Traveling, painting, sticking, photographing, roaming on roofs, metros and catacombs, a very time-consuming job did not leave me enough time to do everything. At the hour of choices, I dropped the spray, the pot of glue, the height and the undergrounds to stay with the photography of lost places, even if I could not get rid of my nickname, symbol of my graffiti artist times, highly important to me. I then continued to travel, almost exclusively looking for abandoned locations to shoot, with or without graffiti.

Today, I have visited more than one thousands of them in more than forty countries on four continents.

With time, my interest has focused on what appeared to me to be the strongest in this vast subject of abandonment: Nature taking back. It is poetic, even magic, to see this Nature retaking what used to be hers, reintegrating through broken windows, cracks on the walls, spaces built by Man and  then neglected, until sometimes guzzling them up entirely.

This topic naturally imposed itself to me due to the ecologic consciousness that moves me since my youngest age and to the strength of the message it carries: the question of the place of Man on Earth and its relation with Nature.

In March 2018, I released the book Naturalia on the topic and currently work on volume II.

 

« Because the true paradises are the paradises that we have lost» Marcel Proust