Borders as relics of the past

A photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France.

Words by

Artdoc

© Maxime Tailler | Col de Petit Saint Bernard

Countries in Europe used to have strict borders with customs passport control and long queues in summer times. Now the international traveller hardly notices any kind of border, only a difference in the language on billboards, road signage, and sometimes, a transition in the landscape. French photographer Maxime Tailler made a grand photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France. In a landscape style, he photographed mountains, rivers and the many tourists visiting the scenic sites. His project Border shows, with humour and wit, that borders are like playgrounds, without the notions of any trespassing.

Maxime Taillez grew up in northern France close to the Belgian border, where he was used to regularly crossing the invisible border. During his study of photography, he started to explore the French-Belgian frontier as a small project. He was curious to see what happened to the border stations. After he finished his academy, he decided to go for a much broader project: to document the border with France and all its neighbouring countries. During his research, he discovered the origin of many boundaries. “At first, I thought borders were creations of human beings, but then I discovered the border with Germany was mainly the river Rhine and that the border between France and Spain was geologically formed by the high mountains of the Pyrenees. It is a real physical border, which you can see in one of my photos where a couple makes photos with a statue of Mary. The mountains in the background form a huge wall.” The same accounts for the Alps on the border with Switzerland and Italy. “I photographed near Mont Blanc, the mountain of great dispute between France and Italy. Every country claims its part, and it is still not resolved.”

© Maxime Tailler | Cirque de Troumouse

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Tourist attractions

Border locations often appear as tourist places in the photos of Taillez. In many images, we see people enjoying themselves during their holidays or day trips. This playful approach brings a more documentary element to the landscapes. “I deliberately searched for the areas. I wanted to show that the border areas are a kind of industry. I first googled interesting places near the border, and afterwards, I checked for pictures that people uploaded. That gave me a good impression if the location was interesting enough to photograph. At some borders, there is a lot of commercial activity because of price differences, like between France and Luxembourg. Once on the spot, people hardly noticed that I was taking pictures, as they were themselves too busy doing that. And they probably saw me as a tourist, despite my big camera.”

© Maxime Taillez | Pointe Helbronner

In one photo, we see soldiers playing in a re-enactment of World War Two, performed in Belgium near the French border. “When driving around, I saw signs about this re-enactment, and I decided to photograph it. It is a local tradition in Belgium. They even perform in Nazi uniforms which is forbidden in other countries.”

© Maxime Taillez | Bon Secours

Even though one might not see it as a strict border, Taillez also photographed the border between France and England on the French coast. We see people on the beach, not unlike the photos of the Italian photographer Massimo Vitali, who was one of his inspirations. “I chose a spot at the coast near Calais, at the narrowest part of the English Channel where people can see the cliffs of England on bright days.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col Agnel

Relics of the past

The borders in the photos of Taillez look like relics of past times. They show that now the inhabitants of Europe have more freedom than before. It is visible in the picture on a mountain pass, where a market stall has been put on the side of the dwindling road. The ironic photo of tourists posing with a flag of Savoy, before a closed border house tells us the borders are souvenirs of forgotten times. “Frontiers are there to cross”, the nowadays European tourists seem to think. The obsolete status of the European borders is aptly illustrated in one photo where we see a lonely goat trying his force near a rocky mountain slope against a boundary post.

Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language.

But on the other hand, during the corona pandemic, it appeared that European borders still existed. People were not allowed to cross the borders, and every country had its own health measures and rules. “Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language. For example, I grew up in northern France, which is quite different from the southern region in terms of landscape, people and language. But that being said, I crossed the border to Belgium many times, and I don’t notice it anymore.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col de Bouchet

Landscapes

The scenic photographs, all taken with a wide angle lens, have a classic grandeur and, despite the people in the pictures, a meditative tranquillity. It is not a coincidence that Maxime Taillez adores the photos of the British photographer Nadav Kander, especially his iconic series Yangtze the long river, in which he blended landscapes with people. “I use a 4x5 inch analogue camera with a 120mm lens, corresponding to a 35mm. The reason I bought this camera was because it was the cheapest way to get this fantastic quality during my student time when I started this project. I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot. You compose a picture just like a painting. The details of the plates are fantastic. And the colours become very soft and smooth. The fun side of the camera is that people are impressed with the old technique and don’t see me as a threat; even the Italian military was amused by looking through the viewfinder.”

I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot.

Another of his favourite photographers is Gregory Crewdson, although he doesn’t work similarly. “He made landscapes with people in it, who he directed. I like the stories and tensions he put into his images.” Maxime Taillez doesn’t need to direct his characters. Without being aware, they play the modern citizens of the old continent without borders, as if Europe was still in Roman times.

© Maxime Taillez | Le Rhin près de Fessenheim

Maxime Taillez (1988) was born in Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, France. He currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. He graduated from a technician degree of photography at lycée Jean Rostand of Roubaix in 2009, and from a Bachelor of photography at ESAI in Brussels in 2012. He work was seen at the Festival LaGacilly in 2022.
maximetaillez.com

Borders as relics of the past

A photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France.

Words by

Artdoc

© Maxime Tailler | Col de Petit Saint Bernard

Countries in Europe used to have strict borders with customs passport control and long queues in summer times. Now the international traveller hardly notices any kind of border, only a difference in the language on billboards, road signage, and sometimes, a transition in the landscape. French photographer Maxime Tailler made a grand photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France. In a landscape style, he photographed mountains, rivers and the many tourists visiting the scenic sites. His project Border shows, with humour and wit, that borders are like playgrounds, without the notions of any trespassing.

Maxime Taillez grew up in northern France close to the Belgian border, where he was used to regularly crossing the invisible border. During his study of photography, he started to explore the French-Belgian frontier as a small project. He was curious to see what happened to the border stations. After he finished his academy, he decided to go for a much broader project: to document the border with France and all its neighbouring countries. During his research, he discovered the origin of many boundaries. “At first, I thought borders were creations of human beings, but then I discovered the border with Germany was mainly the river Rhine and that the border between France and Spain was geologically formed by the high mountains of the Pyrenees. It is a real physical border, which you can see in one of my photos where a couple makes photos with a statue of Mary. The mountains in the background form a huge wall.” The same accounts for the Alps on the border with Switzerland and Italy. “I photographed near Mont Blanc, the mountain of great dispute between France and Italy. Every country claims its part, and it is still not resolved.”

© Maxime Tailler | Cirque de Troumouse

Tourist attractions

Border locations often appear as tourist places in the photos of Taillez. In many images, we see people enjoying themselves during their holidays or day trips. This playful approach brings a more documentary element to the landscapes. “I deliberately searched for the areas. I wanted to show that the border areas are a kind of industry. I first googled interesting places near the border, and afterwards, I checked for pictures that people uploaded. That gave me a good impression if the location was interesting enough to photograph. At some borders, there is a lot of commercial activity because of price differences, like between France and Luxembourg. Once on the spot, people hardly noticed that I was taking pictures, as they were themselves too busy doing that. And they probably saw me as a tourist, despite my big camera.”

© Maxime Taillez | Pointe Helbronner

In one photo, we see soldiers playing in a re-enactment of World War Two, performed in Belgium near the French border. “When driving around, I saw signs about this re-enactment, and I decided to photograph it. It is a local tradition in Belgium. They even perform in Nazi uniforms which is forbidden in other countries.”

© Maxime Taillez | Bon Secours

Even though one might not see it as a strict border, Taillez also photographed the border between France and England on the French coast. We see people on the beach, not unlike the photos of the Italian photographer Massimo Vitali, who was one of his inspirations. “I chose a spot at the coast near Calais, at the narrowest part of the English Channel where people can see the cliffs of England on bright days.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col Agnel

Relics of the past

The borders in the photos of Taillez look like relics of past times. They show that now the inhabitants of Europe have more freedom than before. It is visible in the picture on a mountain pass, where a market stall has been put on the side of the dwindling road. The ironic photo of tourists posing with a flag of Savoy, before a closed border house tells us the borders are souvenirs of forgotten times. “Frontiers are there to cross”, the nowadays European tourists seem to think. The obsolete status of the European borders is aptly illustrated in one photo where we see a lonely goat trying his force near a rocky mountain slope against a boundary post.

Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language.

But on the other hand, during the corona pandemic, it appeared that European borders still existed. People were not allowed to cross the borders, and every country had its own health measures and rules. “Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language. For example, I grew up in northern France, which is quite different from the southern region in terms of landscape, people and language. But that being said, I crossed the border to Belgium many times, and I don’t notice it anymore.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col de Bouchet

Landscapes

The scenic photographs, all taken with a wide angle lens, have a classic grandeur and, despite the people in the pictures, a meditative tranquillity. It is not a coincidence that Maxime Taillez adores the photos of the British photographer Nadav Kander, especially his iconic series Yangtze the long river, in which he blended landscapes with people. “I use a 4x5 inch analogue camera with a 120mm lens, corresponding to a 35mm. The reason I bought this camera was because it was the cheapest way to get this fantastic quality during my student time when I started this project. I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot. You compose a picture just like a painting. The details of the plates are fantastic. And the colours become very soft and smooth. The fun side of the camera is that people are impressed with the old technique and don’t see me as a threat; even the Italian military was amused by looking through the viewfinder.”

I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot.

Another of his favourite photographers is Gregory Crewdson, although he doesn’t work similarly. “He made landscapes with people in it, who he directed. I like the stories and tensions he put into his images.” Maxime Taillez doesn’t need to direct his characters. Without being aware, they play the modern citizens of the old continent without borders, as if Europe was still in Roman times.

© Maxime Taillez | Le Rhin près de Fessenheim

Maxime Taillez (1988) was born in Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, France. He currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. He graduated from a technician degree of photography at lycée Jean Rostand of Roubaix in 2009, and from a Bachelor of photography at ESAI in Brussels in 2012. He work was seen at the Festival LaGacilly in 2022.
maximetaillez.com

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Borders as relics of the past

A photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France.

Words by

Artdoc

© Maxime Tailler | Col de Petit Saint Bernard

Countries in Europe used to have strict borders with customs passport control and long queues in summer times. Now the international traveller hardly notices any kind of border, only a difference in the language on billboards, road signage, and sometimes, a transition in the landscape. French photographer Maxime Tailler made a grand photographic survey of the invisible frontiers of France. In a landscape style, he photographed mountains, rivers and the many tourists visiting the scenic sites. His project Border shows, with humour and wit, that borders are like playgrounds, without the notions of any trespassing.

Maxime Taillez grew up in northern France close to the Belgian border, where he was used to regularly crossing the invisible border. During his study of photography, he started to explore the French-Belgian frontier as a small project. He was curious to see what happened to the border stations. After he finished his academy, he decided to go for a much broader project: to document the border with France and all its neighbouring countries. During his research, he discovered the origin of many boundaries. “At first, I thought borders were creations of human beings, but then I discovered the border with Germany was mainly the river Rhine and that the border between France and Spain was geologically formed by the high mountains of the Pyrenees. It is a real physical border, which you can see in one of my photos where a couple makes photos with a statue of Mary. The mountains in the background form a huge wall.” The same accounts for the Alps on the border with Switzerland and Italy. “I photographed near Mont Blanc, the mountain of great dispute between France and Italy. Every country claims its part, and it is still not resolved.”

© Maxime Tailler | Cirque de Troumouse

Tourist attractions

Border locations often appear as tourist places in the photos of Taillez. In many images, we see people enjoying themselves during their holidays or day trips. This playful approach brings a more documentary element to the landscapes. “I deliberately searched for the areas. I wanted to show that the border areas are a kind of industry. I first googled interesting places near the border, and afterwards, I checked for pictures that people uploaded. That gave me a good impression if the location was interesting enough to photograph. At some borders, there is a lot of commercial activity because of price differences, like between France and Luxembourg. Once on the spot, people hardly noticed that I was taking pictures, as they were themselves too busy doing that. And they probably saw me as a tourist, despite my big camera.”

© Maxime Taillez | Pointe Helbronner

In one photo, we see soldiers playing in a re-enactment of World War Two, performed in Belgium near the French border. “When driving around, I saw signs about this re-enactment, and I decided to photograph it. It is a local tradition in Belgium. They even perform in Nazi uniforms which is forbidden in other countries.”

© Maxime Taillez | Bon Secours

Even though one might not see it as a strict border, Taillez also photographed the border between France and England on the French coast. We see people on the beach, not unlike the photos of the Italian photographer Massimo Vitali, who was one of his inspirations. “I chose a spot at the coast near Calais, at the narrowest part of the English Channel where people can see the cliffs of England on bright days.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col Agnel

Relics of the past

The borders in the photos of Taillez look like relics of past times. They show that now the inhabitants of Europe have more freedom than before. It is visible in the picture on a mountain pass, where a market stall has been put on the side of the dwindling road. The ironic photo of tourists posing with a flag of Savoy, before a closed border house tells us the borders are souvenirs of forgotten times. “Frontiers are there to cross”, the nowadays European tourists seem to think. The obsolete status of the European borders is aptly illustrated in one photo where we see a lonely goat trying his force near a rocky mountain slope against a boundary post.

Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language.

But on the other hand, during the corona pandemic, it appeared that European borders still existed. People were not allowed to cross the borders, and every country had its own health measures and rules. “Even in one country, there are unseen borders, in culture or language. For example, I grew up in northern France, which is quite different from the southern region in terms of landscape, people and language. But that being said, I crossed the border to Belgium many times, and I don’t notice it anymore.”

© Maxime Taillez | Col de Bouchet

Landscapes

The scenic photographs, all taken with a wide angle lens, have a classic grandeur and, despite the people in the pictures, a meditative tranquillity. It is not a coincidence that Maxime Taillez adores the photos of the British photographer Nadav Kander, especially his iconic series Yangtze the long river, in which he blended landscapes with people. “I use a 4x5 inch analogue camera with a 120mm lens, corresponding to a 35mm. The reason I bought this camera was because it was the cheapest way to get this fantastic quality during my student time when I started this project. I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot. You compose a picture just like a painting. The details of the plates are fantastic. And the colours become very soft and smooth. The fun side of the camera is that people are impressed with the old technique and don’t see me as a threat; even the Italian military was amused by looking through the viewfinder.”

I like the quietness and the time you need to make a shot.

Another of his favourite photographers is Gregory Crewdson, although he doesn’t work similarly. “He made landscapes with people in it, who he directed. I like the stories and tensions he put into his images.” Maxime Taillez doesn’t need to direct his characters. Without being aware, they play the modern citizens of the old continent without borders, as if Europe was still in Roman times.

© Maxime Taillez | Le Rhin près de Fessenheim

Maxime Taillez (1988) was born in Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, France. He currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. He graduated from a technician degree of photography at lycée Jean Rostand of Roubaix in 2009, and from a Bachelor of photography at ESAI in Brussels in 2012. He work was seen at the Festival LaGacilly in 2022.
maximetaillez.com

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