In Gregoire Pujade-Lauraine’s A Perpetual Season, one is confronted with a city at once familiar and yet unrecognizable. The architecture and foundations of this unnamed and ultimately fictional city twist our sense of direction. All surfaces seem built with purpose although to what purpose is unknown. It does not seem to be for the benefit of human life.
A Perpetual Season opens with a highrise building with a single lit window like an all seeing eye. It is the only image looking upwards and the highest reference in the book (After a few readings one might start to think of a panopticon). On the ground, the streets are stripped of all references – no advertising, no commerce, almost no litter. Everything has an aged modernist look. A few plates in we come across a granite boulder with six holes drilled into its side – a reminder of a past civilization? A past religion?
Pujade-Lauraine has pulled off an interesting feat – that of using a tight edit of highly abstracted incidental spaces and photographs of passersby on the street to create a kind of futuristic nowadays. Godard’s Alphaville comes to mind.
Of the people we encounter within this labyrinth – it is mostly all walls that cut off our choices of direction into forward and backward after all – some seem confused, but most just seem to be existing within its confines. Not seemingly disturbed by their surroundings, mostly indifferent. This cross section of the populace seems to have embraced Benjamin’s adage about losing one’s self in a city. Or perhaps have become more comfortable with the lingering sense of having control placed over them.
As a package A Perpetual Season is beautiful from its cover design to its blue toned page edges. The size, paper choices and printing all well considered and realized. Pujade-Lauraine is a talented designer who has done several of the MACK titles and is the author of The Significant Savages, a book included in the recent Parr/ Badger III. If there is one aspect I have lingering doubts it would be with the title. It rings a bit too self-conscious, and of his book The Significant Savages, I felt the same. Unexpectedly, even though completely different in practice (one book is images gathered off Facebook profiles, the other, taken by Pujade-Lauraine with a camera), these two books seem linked by more than initially meets the eye.