Photographer FRENCH COWBOY
A Julien Crouïgneau & Mia Macfarlane Creation
Model Meg Fairbairn
FRENCH COWBOY “LE SUD”, Entering Le Sud is like walking down a fresh path, your body alive with a sense of the world around you. Feeling the weight of the summer heat, the cooling breeze against your skin, hearing the brief rustle of grass mixed with the sound of cicadas. Or catching a glimpse of an unknown face in a passing doorway, or perhaps a better description is that of a hand against your face, the sight of a lover walking through the room their body glistening in the morning light as it moves past a window framing the countryside, your body seeped in the relaxation of a vacation well earned, every sense aware after an intimate morning. And then there is the light, it is always the light, illuminating each subject with energy and emotion, sometimes so close that you can almost touch it, other times farther away, yet always beyond your reach. In their book, Le Sud, Paris based collaborative French Cowboy bring us into this land, one where David Lynch might play, filled with questions not all answered which is one of the book’s great delights.
Image makers Mia Macfarlane and Julien Crouïgneau embraced cinema as an inspiration for Le Sud, writing a full backstory for the shoot, detailing a bank robbery gone wrong amid the passion of a love lost. Here their strength in storytelling comes to the fore as they bring depth and visual acuity to the story. They had already planned to spend three days photographing their friend and muse Meg in the South of France, but felt the need to move beyond aesthetic and the representations of beauty and body toward a more cinematic narrative.
Following is a brief excerpt from the scenario they created as an inspiration:
“We were supposed to meet at the motel in the south of France where we first fell for each other. It was only 6 months ago when the world had stopped for us. When every minute of that week together is ingrained in my senses forever. He was my one, the air I breathed, and up until 2 days ago, we were inseparable.
6 months ago in this same room, we had joked about robbing a diamond wholesaler in Cannes. At least I thought it was a joke, but I guess it wasn’t, as there is over a million dollars of diamonds in my bag. The heist had gone wrong but I had gotten away. We had both created a contingency plan to meet here at Les Cabanettes, but that was two days ago and he still hasn’t arrived.
My head has been going over the last minutes of the heist, ever since. Why had we missed that girl hiding under the counter? She must have pushed the security button. He told me to run, so I ran. It was part of the plan after all. I kept running even when I had heard the gunfire… When I first arrived at the hotel I expected him to walk in at any minute. I had never really doubted it. Nothing could happen to him. It just wasn’t possible. When I heard someone walk down the hallway my heart started pounding with excitement and I smiled but then the person entered the room next door...”
French Cowboy’s iconic fashion photographs range from quirky intellectual inquisitions to visceral explorations of sensuality and body. As fashion photographers they have created editorials with fashion houses such as Schiaparelli at L’Opera de Paris and Jean-Paul Gaultier in the streets of Paris along with numerous other editorials for IRK Magazine, and publication in Vogue Italia, The Opéra, Animal Anatomy, and Antonym. These photographs along with more traditional representations of landscape and nudes have comprised their career as exhibiting artists in London, New York, and Paris. Images from their fine art portfolio will be part of my second book on fine art photography due out in early 2022 from Routledge Press, New York and will include Erwin Olaf, Cindy Sherman, Ansel Adams, Elinor Carrucci, and Diana Markosian, among others.
In addition to creating imagery for fashion clients across Europe and a career as exhibiting artists they are the Co-Editors-in-Chief at IRK Magazine a Paris based fashion and culture print and web site publication distributed internationally at trendy stores and museums, and have recently opened IRK Gallerie in Arles, France, site of the Recontres D’Arles one of the world’s leading photography festivals.
In Le Sud they bring together their strengths as creators and storytellers, their collaborative voice resonating in a visual narrative that is all their own. There is a beauty and tension to this work, created with a clarity that is unapologetic in its illustration, an unflinching manifestation of their vision, one that makes it difficult to turn your gaze.