A Photographer Who Is, and Isn’t, in Every Frame She Takes

By
Photo: Maia Flore

The south of France, where 28-year-old photographer and visual artist Maia Flore was born, is also where her great-grandmother Bruna became the first photo­grapher in the family. Bruna’s neighbors were quite intrigued. Few in her village had electricity at the time, according to Flore, let alone a camera. Bruna photographed other families and also became something of a local seamstress, sewing clothing for her children and others.

Flore never met her great-­grandmother. But the idea of returning to that empty house with a box of clothing from the latest fall runway shows represented “a possibility of connection” with her. “I feel I’ve been on the same path,” she says. “Thinking about her is something that’s very alive in my mind every day.”

Best known for her surreal self-­portraits, Flore appears in every one of her photographs — but never shows her face. “It’s not about myself,” she explains. “Because there is no face, it allows the viewer to be that girl in a way, to be just this person in the picture. I hope it could be anyone.”

At each shoot, she places her camera on a tripod, withdraws from the lens with a remote in hand, and begins what she describes as a performance, snapping photographs as she moves. She starts by trying to lose her sense of gravity, balancing on her toes, arms, and head. “In my process, I like to be away from the camera, just to forget it and to experiment with my body,” she says. “If I forget the shutter of the camera — that click-click-click — I can just be in my own story.” —Catie L’Heureux

*This article appears in the October 31, 2016, issue of New York Magazine.