Each year Mona Kuhn embarks on a twenty-six hour crossing, through 9 time zones, from her house in Los Angeles to her small isolated home on a remote region near Bordeaux, France. There is no electricity but a collection of oil lamps. The house is minimal with no superfluous material items, but there is an abundance of spirit. During the course of this yearly interval, existing here provides a sanctuary of simple life in an unembellished dwelling. Time spent is cherished by extended family and friends.
“Bordeaux Series,” a collection of images taken there, is the subject of Kuhn’s fourth book. She has photographed her friends and loved ones in the same room with a red fabric backdrop and a chair, so that the nudity of each sitter is the only indication of his or her idiosyncrasies.
In the text that accompanies the images, she writes:
As I step into this house, I enter a parallel reality that unravels and exists only for a few months of the year. We cook and gather around the table. We speak plainly of ourselves, and it feels as though these moments we have shared over the years are strung together into a braid of tales. As the night arrives, we are surrounded by the dark silhouettes of pine trees and the sensual play of wind on foliage. The smell of resin mixes with the verbena in our tea. The days fill up with a sense of abandon, as if life elsewhere never mattered.
In a tiny room with red patterned fabric and a chair, I am like a small town photographer before a simple stage. My friends come and sit, and I make a portrait of each in the bare light that comes through the double doors, which open to the outside where I stand…The photographs are similar to bread crumbs that I throw on the path to help me memorize a way back to this place and these emotions.
Born in 1969, Mona Kuhn has exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe and South America. Three monographs on her work, Photographs (2004), Evidence (2007), and Native (2009) have been published by Steidl. Her work is held in collections such as the Musee de la Photographie de Charleroi, Belgium, Griffin Museum, Massachusetts; Miami Art Museum, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; Schwarz Fine and Contemporary Art Collection, Berlin, Nicolaus von Oesterreich Collection, Frankfurt, di Rosa Foundation, San Francisco; Sir Elton John Collection, England; and the Buhl Foundation, New York.