In Paris my apartment lies on the fifth floor of my century and a half old building. It’s a typical Parisian apartment, at 24 meters squared (250 feet squared) so it is quite small by American standards, but quite modest for Paris. If you were to ask me my favourite spot inside my place, it wouldn’t be my bed or my couch, nor my kitchen or shower. My most beloved spot would be perched on my windowsill with the windows open and with a cool breeze to contrast the warmth of the sun beaming onto my face. I can tend to my flowers and watch the world go by on the cobbled streets below.
It seems I am not the only one who finds a familiar solace in windows. Clara Abi Nader, a photographer at Aperture Tours in Paris, has created a series with nothing more than her window as a backdrop. “I spent a lot of time by that window, looking at people, looking at that mirror and at myself. I started remembering things from my childhood, my first times, my successes, my failures, my secrets... I've been living in Paris alone and this room has been my home for four years now. Through that series I am letting go of some feelings and making them last forever in an indefinite movement.”
In 2013 Clara found herself freshly unemployed, and enamoured with absolute boredom. One night in November she took to drinking alone by her window and watching the contrast of everything that was happening outside her small room. Of that night Clara confesses “believe it or not, that was pretty fun. From dancing to singing, to laughing at my own jokes, I woke up the next morning with an idea of shooting a self-portrait which I named My wine is gone and I am jobless”.
If you think it is reminiscent of French New Wave, then you’re spot on. Clara is a fan of director Eric Rohmer and In particular his film “My Night at Maud’s” is a strong influence to the series. In the film a devout Catholic man is introduced to an alluring divorcee, Maud, who is a headstrong, passionate, seductive lady who doesn’t follow the rules. The two converse about love and philosophy, before the chaste protagonist spends the night at Maud's place, conflicted about what he desires. For Clara, this New Wave sentiment is etched into the celluloid of this series. FIMP, a Beirut based magazine, asked Clara to shoot a remake of the poster of the movie and the series blossomed from there.
“Moving to Paris helped me so much. One aspect for sure, was discovering my Parisian side” Clara explains, choosing to “stay in a small apartment while having the opportunity and privilege to swallow some sunshine in Spring and Summer.”
Clara collects objects and memories, incorporating them into the series as she herself changes in front of the camera. Pulling from affecting life experiences, things that have remained strong in her memory. Such as her first piano recital, when she had very short hair, cut like a boy. “I was very nervous, very proud, I'm doing my bow and played my song. At the end of the recital, my brother told me, there are guys who made fun of you 'Hey! It looks like a guy in a dress!' ”. Or at times she would just fabricate new memories, nostalgic for a life she never had, like playing with a yoyo of which she never had as a child.
“I spent the week brainstorming every night about an idea and shooting the next morning while the sun was still there. The series became a representation of me, a moment in my life, a state of mind, a memory.”
“Light is very important in this work.” explains Clara, who has very deliberately chosen to shoot on sunny days with direct sunlight streaming in the windows. “Coming from a Mediterranean country, sunshine and sunlight is vital for me. Every year, when Spring is approaching and sunlight is hitting my window again, I get this rush of inspiration coming back to my mind and again for one week I will brainstorm every night and shoot the next morning.”
Clara typically shoots street photography and is attracted by the mundane. “I am interested in showing how things are, raw and real, just the way they are.” So shooting a staged series with a set scene, costumes and objects was a new direction for her, but one she enjoyed. “This project was almost a liberation for me, a way to escape from all the regular madness that we witness every day, and instead dive into my own fantasy. My only wish was to have a crazy enough neighbour shooting the scene from his point of view”
About the Artist : Clara Abi Nader
About the Artist : Clara Abi Nader
Clara is a photographer guide at Aperture Tours Paris. She is a graduate of Photography from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, and she likes to develop a sense of narrative in the cinematic images she creates. She enjoys turning the mundane into magnificence.