Every night, the leaving of all the businessman and employees of the business district “la Défense”, turn it into a no man’s land. Because at night, this international economic center, made of an agglomerate of business towers grown like a steel forest on a gigantic pedestrian flagstone, becomes an outskirts, an urban desert without even a soul to haunt it.
It’s this ghost town that doesn’t seem to wait for anything, that the photographer Ruben Brulat explores, night after night, from footbridge to parking lot, from floors to stairs. Each snapshot has required from the artist dozens of hours of wandering, until he finds a spot whose nothingness strikes a chord in him; a place where the light, the architecture, the materials and the relief create an incongruous and tragic scenery. Afterwards, there’s still hours of observation, impregnation, dreaming. But when the vision appears, it immediately becomes desire, a pressing demand to achieve. To reach this paradoxical symbiosis that he is so gifted to create, the artist has the urge to get naked right here, right now. He has to take possession of the place at all costs; he has to project himself as a human being. Leaving without going all the way is out of the question; it would be fault. The photographer then, founds himself truly naked in his own lens, buried in his own eye.
To fully understand Ruben Brulat, you have to put yourself in the place of this lonely being, who explores every corner of this silent labyrinth, and who suddenly decides, in the middle of the night, to offer himself to the coldness of a place, alone and naked, to make one with the steel, glass and concrete. Just imagine his quest, how he hunt down the right location, imagine the adrenaline running through his veins when he gets undressed and offers his fragile and vulnerable body to the horror of a soul and history-less place.
Ruben Brulat can’t stop himself from exploring every corner of this unique district, he forbids himself to neglect any parcel and it shows in its photography where no detail is left out. Precise to the excess, exploring each centimeter of this too bright or, at the contrary, too quickly damaged spaces. The shadows of the skeletal empty towers are scrutinized to the very depths of them and reveal they gigantic and abandoned reliefs. In the middle of the composition, a naked human body, successively fragile, tortured, in a dream, describes the human life that rises in the most hostile environment.
We are at the heart of the biggest European business Center and there is nothing. The power system lies dormant, waiting for the creatures with flesh and feelings to reactivate it. It seems as if only the Economy, feeding herself with numbers, networks and transactions, manages to survive in this environment. While we, the humans, living on the feelings, sensations, even suffering – all what’s precisely absent from this place – aren’t allowed.
From one photography to the other, a metaphor is made. It becomes clear that where the economical power triumph no life being belongs there. The life that irresistibly and happily insinuate itself everywhere, has been driven away. Even the vegetation, placed there by a program, seems to suffocate in her constraint. Even when she forces herself to take her rights back in the spots the town planning has forgotten, her small victories make the life look like a macabre and obscene phenomenon.
At first sight, the Immaculate series comes under conceptual photography. And yet, the presence of an humble and discreet body, naked without being provocative, sexless, unidentified, makes it a different sort of representation. Strangely, a certain beauty emerges from this ugliness. Is it because of the body ? Because of the strong inspiration of the photographer ? Sometimes, during his nightly wandering, Ruben Brulat encounters a lonely, ghostly, exhausted or grief-stricken soul. Suddenly, a shy and strange “Good evening” rings in the silence. Humanity, after all. Maybe that’s where it comes from, the utter happiness, the feverish euphoria, that takes over the artist, when he takes home one of these eerie/ supernatural snapshot/photography, from the victory of having took a portrait of the humanity out of this place that deprives the life of its essentials rights.
by Dan Nisand, writer