The Fables of the 17th century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine used imaginary situations involving animals as actors (I.e. The Raven and the Fox) to make ironic and critical social commentaries.
La Fontaine himself was probably inspired by the Greek tradition of beasts’ centered fables (Aesop), characterized by animals speaking and generally having human characteristics.
Captivity is a modern take on this long-standing tradition. Using zoos, museums, and aquariums as canvas and stage, these photographs document our relationship with a disappearing Nature. As for de La Fontaine and Aesop, the work serves as social commentary referencing history, art, and modern day culture. It is ultimately a reflection on the human condition. 20th Century jazz musician and writer Boris Vian wrote ”humor is the politeness of despair”. Captivity aims to be very polite. The photographs range from ironic to sarcastic while playing with composition, scale, and juxtapositions.
– Thierry Gourjon-Bieltvedt, 2021
About the Artist
Fascinated at an early age by the photographic medium and its ability to either document the world or transform it into a new representation, Thierry Gourjon-Bieltvedt, a French born photographer with family ties to Iceland and Norway, first studied medicine for two years, following his French Baccalaureat in Paris.
Frustrated by the lack of creativity associated with that field of study, he went back to his early interest, photography. After getting his CAP de Photographie at the Societe Francaise de Photography (Paris), he moved to New York in 1993. He holds a BFA in Media Arts (1996) and an MFA in Digital Imaging (2014), both from Pratt Institute (Brooklyn).
Artist, editorial photographer, photo editor and professor for the past twenty years, he has combined freelancing, teaching and pursuing personal projects. He is equally interested in both traditional photography and multi-disciplinary work (digital imaging, sculpture…). Visual language, perception, design and beauty are his primary interests. He continues to explore the limitless possibilities of the digital medium and regularly exhibits his work.
He has taught photography at Pratt Institute and La Guardia CUNY for over fifteen years, before joining La Guardia full time in 2014 where he is currently an associate professor.
Learn more at tgourjonvisuals.com
The activities of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance are made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support from the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.