Ruben Brulat Interview
24 year old photographer Ruben Brulat’s newest series of images showcases breathtakingly beautiful landscapes from around the world and their relationship with humanity. ‘Paths’ is the result of Brulat’s latest nomadic exploration from Europe to Asia across land only, during which he sought unknown wilderness.
These images celebrate the spontaneous connections made between the strangers encountered by the artist within these sparse unwelcoming landscapes. Depicting these fellow humans naked and vulnerable, almost absorbed by nature, before each individual retakes their solitary path. Highlighting the fragility of the human form in lieu of the vast and brutal naturalistic world, like vague memories of a past existance before civilisation, now only to be recaptured in rare untouched pockets; the images are humbling.
Scroll down for the interview with Ruben
Au temps disparu, Bromo, Indonesia, 2012
Researching you for this interview we found no mention of your geographical origins, in light of your work that seems almost purposeful. Do you consider anywhere “Home”?
I am at home anywhere.
Was there a particular location upon your journey from Europe to Asia of which you were most fond?
There were many, but there are moments that of course shape you more, places that leave a deeper imprint on you, mostly related to the encounters along the way; Istanbul and the muezzins; Iran and its blue tiles and giant maze bazar; Central Asia with all its myths and dreams of a world gone forever: silk road stories; Kabul, in all beauty and violence; the Pamirs mountain range: a land far away, arid with with rocks surrounding you, and where nature is impressive; the nomads in Tibet with all their glorious stories; China and its amazing diversity: the pristine beach of Flores and the Komodos; encounters along a train ride towards Hokkaido; stories of volcanoes; Siberian truck drivers ride in the early trans-Siberian fog.
When taking photographs for your most recent project, did you consider yourself in the role of photographer, observing the habits of humanity, or do you consider yourself just another stranger on another path?
Another stranger, another path that we now share for a while before saying goodbye – often forever. Then of course there are observations, attempts to understand, with all the myths and stories that come from the past, creating new ones; and then sometimes there are some photographs with intensity.
Racines recherchées, Gobi, Mongolia, 2012
Is this work a form of escapism for you, seeking a “lost world” of sorts?
I think it is a quest – facing these worlds – a quest to understand maybe life in general, and what makes us, situations, encounters, strangers – all unknown – sharing a little before becoming unknown to each other again. Simply, through the luxury of living.
What lead you to pick strangers? Do you strive detachment from the subject in your work, these unknown landscapes inhabited by unknown travellers?
I sought something, shared this experience. There is a very strong connection; the photo happening, after intense meetings, adventures, after intense moments. Getting there. Or by the way it was brought to us.
Au dessous des dessus, Bohol, Phillipines, 2012
There is a certain loneliness that runs throughout the series and your other image collections. Is there a specific reason that you chose so often to portray the humans in your images alone?
Because of the relationship that suddenly takes place: vulnerability; strength; the sense of scale; that gives Nature but also these bodies a different sense. In the moment where it is happening, it is a very silent experience, very far from the camera, were performers are there to be photographed, but mainly to have the experience.
Ignoring the concept behind your latest work, ‘Paths’ presents a set of beautiful landscape photographs in themselves. Was the pure aesthetics of these images in the forefront of your mind as you created this collection?
All pictures had to happen by themselves: no planning or specific spot that I would choose. If there was the person, if she/he or they would agree to go with their bare skin against the surroundings, if there was a place with strength and beauty, if the light would be good, only then would it happen. If it wasn’t then the way would continue. It would always be a wait that all circumstances come together.
Technical question – What equipment do you shoot with?
I use an Arca swiss misura (4×5), with the Fuji pro 160S sheets, I have 3 lenses with me + 2 chassis and a lightproof bag, and of course a tripod. I also use a little leica for more ‘travel shots’ with a 35mm.
Flirt, Gobi, Mongolia, 2012
Patiences, Goreme, Turkey, 2011
See more of Ruben’s work on his website
His Paths series is available as a beautiful book. We purchased Special Edition and it’s truly spectacular.