• Bangkok

    2003 - 2016
    Alain Soldeville documents the ways in which Thailand is being altered while undergoing the transformation from a nation based on traditional values - monarchy, religion - to a modern, globalised country. His photographs show empty streets, devoid of life, glossy high fashion advertisements, ramshackle buildings and brand new shopping malls; they capture the incongruous, the strange juxtapositions in the urban landscape of Bangkok. Extract of an article by Oliver John: Caught between tradition and modernity (read in critics).
  • Phra Chao You Hoa

    2006 - 2016
    King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is known as Rama IX as the ninth sovereign of the Chakri dynasty. Born on December 5, 1927, he is the longest - serving head of state in the world, having succeeded his brother to the throne on June 9, 1946. Crowned in 1950 as a constitutional monarch-absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932 - he is one of the cornerstones of Thailand’s unity. He intervened several times when the country was in the throes of military coups, and has been striving through his life to bring development projects to rural areas. Revered by the Thai population who respectfully call him "Phra Chao Yu Hoa", that is, the people’s god, he nearly has divine status. No one may question his opinions or recommendations and any issue related to him is extremely sensitive. Portraits of the sovereign at different periods of his life are ever-present in public areas on his birthday and anniversary of his coronation: Giant digital prints appear on billboard banners, building facades, along avenues in the vicinity of the Royal Palace, in the lobbies of government and private company buildings, in subway stations, in shopping plazas’parking lots and entrance halls, and on state museum facades. The portraits come from the Royal Palace’s photographic archives or were commissioned from painters. The king’s only son, Prince Vajiralongkorn is his heir to the throne.
  • Balzac

    2009 and 2011
    The history of La Courneuve began in March 1959 with the construction of the cité des 4000. Thousands of Pied-Noir (French citizens who lived in French Algeria before independence) were returning from Algeria, working-class families were being forced out of the Belleville area of Paris by a budding property development market as well as inhabitants of the Franc-Moison and La Campa slums were all immediately housed in La Courneuve. In 1984, La Courneuve took over the running of the cité des 4000 housing estate and launched an urban renewal programme. From 1986, many low-rise blocks were demolished and were replaced by small-scale council apartment buildings. The Balzac low-rise block was built in 1964. It was 50m high (15 storeys) and 185m long. In 2009, I gained access to apartments in the Balzac low-rise block on the day the tenants moved out. As the building was vacated, it progressively turned into a lawless zone. Dealers squatted in the empty apartments, using them to store their merchandise, and intimidated the isolated families. The housing project office was forced to contract a private security firm to protect the movers hired to help people pack. I wanted to keep a record of the memory of the place. My initial project turned into something in-between: I photographed empty rooms, as well as those yet to be emptied. The decoration, inscriptions on walls, abandoned objects, clothes and trinkets left behind were as many daily imprints as fragments of life there. In 2011, I photographed the apartments again, emptied of their occupants while demolition work progressed. Seen together these photographs evoke the passage of time and play with different levels of temporality.
  • Chinese portraits

    2006 - 2008
    In the mid-19th century, Bangkok experienced strong economic development. Chinese immigrants contributed to this prosperity. Today, Thais of Chinese origin constitute 14 percent of the population, that is, approximately 10 million people. In Bangkok, the vast majority of the families have Chinese ancestors. Most of them are third or fourth-generation descendants of the 1 million Chinese immigrants who arrived between 1920 and 1940. In order to truly belong, those immigrants had to give up their culture and become "Thai", which meant dropping their real names and the use of their language in public. Most of those photographs were made between 1930 and 1960 in Chinatown’s photo studios in Bangkok. In her book "L’amant", or "The Lover", French author Marguerite Duras recalls this tradition of family pictures upon a person’s imminent death, which she had seen in Saigon in her childhood. "All people photographed looked virtually the same in the photos, their resemblance was astounding", she writes. "Portraits were touched up to such an extent that their distinctive features, if there still were any, nearly disappeared. Faces were all dressed in the same way to face eternity, they were smoothed out, uniformly made to look younger. All men were wearing the same turban, all women the same bun, their hair pulled into the same hairstyles, men and women in the same straight-collar garment. They all had the same look that I still would be able to differentiate from others".
  • Busy people

    2005 - 2008
    This series was produced in Bangkok and completed during an artist’s residency. The photographs were made during the lunch break in the business area of Silom Avenue. During various trips I wandered up and down this busy shopping street in the city centre and was struck by the atmosphere there. Between midday and 2pm the bank and public administration employees left their offices in their droves. Many seemed indifferent to what was going on around them, lost in thought, uptight, their minds still on their jobs. I let myself be carried along by the incessant flow of the crowd going up and down the avenue, and I photographed as I walked. I noticed that women behaved differently to men. The latter seemed stressed, trying to avoid bumping into people in their way and you could read their emotions on their faces. The women were more relaxed in general, joking with their colleagues. This series shows contemporary Thais, those who live in cities and who aren’t always smiling, as tourist posters would have us believe.
  • The best of tales

    In France, from October 2001 to July 2008, I photographed about twenty couples from diverse social backgrounds. Some of the images are reconstructions of a reality that has been lived and is being told by the couples. Some others are mid-way between reality and fiction. All of them explore the poetry and drama of everyday life by the representation of the body in the domestic and in the public environments.
  • The eloquent body

    1999 - 2003 Travelling in Asia since 2O years, I was the witness of many religious pilgrimages, where pilgrims mortified their bodies. Coming back in Europe, I wanted to know the motivations of people doing body modifications. During three years I photographed in studio men and women who had tatooes, piercings, scarifications, extreme implants. Most of them want to transform their bodies in works of art. These bodies are considered and looked at very much like landscapes or sculptural objects: some details are revealed by the light, some others are left in the shadows. They are photographed from a distance or at close-range. With their own words, the models express their life choices and their feelings about the way other people look at them.
  • Bugis street

    In December 1980, I left Paris for a two-year trip to Asia and Australia. I had limited experience in photography. After spending a month in Bangkok, I arrived in Singapore where I checked in at a hotel located on the fourth floor of an impersonal tower. A few days later, around midnight, I headed for Bugis Street in a neighborhood of old Chinese houses from the colonial era. Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun. I stroked up a conversation with Rose who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Rose and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses. After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway. For more than twenty five years, I completely forgot those photos. It’s only recently that I came across them.