“To Be Naked Is to Be Oneself”: Inside David Luraschi’s Sensual Photo Book

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Ensemble by David Luraschi
Ensemble by David Luraschi© David Luraschi 2021 courtesy Loose Joints

Created in collaboration with Simon Porte Jacquemus, Luraschi’s publication captures dancers nude in the wild salt flats of the Camargue

Though the images for it were shot in 2017, photographer David Luraschi’s new book Ensemble arrives at a pertinent time. Published as we tentatively edge out of an intimacy-starved period, brought on by the pandemic – where people have stayed cooped up indoors for long stretches of time, away from the touch of family, friends and lovers – the publication is something of a visual salve for isolated eyes.

The book’s sensual pages capture dancers Claire Tran and Paul Girard nude in the windswept Provençal wetlands of the Camargue – an area of salt flats south of Arles and west of Marseille famed for its wildness – documenting their bodies gently embracing and mingling together in the sand and water.

Translating as ’together’ in French, Ensemble is fittingly the result of a collaboration between friends: Luraschi first dreamt up the project with friend and designer Simon Porte Jacquemus four years ago – initially as a photo story for Jacquemus’ Autumn/Winter 2017 collection, titled L’amour d’un Gitan – and this year the series is returned to and published by friends Sarah Piegay Espenon and Lewis Chaplin of Loose Joints, whose new book store, opening in Marseille this July, is also entitled Ensemble. To mark the launch of the store, Loose Joints is holding a special exhibition and book launch of Luraschi’s Ensemble in the Marseille space next Friday (16 July).

Friendship, Luraschi tells AnOther over email, was also the pervading spirit of the two-day shoot. “The process was natural – very likely because there was great chemistry amongst the group,” the photographer remembers. “Claire and Paul are great artists and have known each other since they were young, so between their propositions and Simon’s vision I was spoiled … Simon is very inspiring to be around. There’s something about him and his energy that makes me happy. It’s hard to describe.”

When asked about the palpable sensuality of the project, Luraschi says, “I’d rather let the viewer make their own definition. Sensuality might occur when we don’t say anything but just feel. So let’s do this. So that’s what we were doing, feeling, not thinking, not trying. John Berger says, ‘To be naked is to be oneself, to be nude is to be seen by others yet not recognised for oneself.’”

Though, as much as Ensemble celebrates the natural pleasure of physical closeness, it is equally a love letter to nature itself – something that grounds Luraschi in his personal life, and which clearly inspires much of his beautiful, sun-soaked photography. “I feel most at peace and free in nature,” the image-maker says. “I love the horizontal lines of a seascape or a desert. There’s something exciting about where nothing and everything meet.”

And as for his hopes for the book, Luraschi says, “My hopes are already fulfilled really. In the making of this object, the celebration of the work produced with my friends is enough for me. Very excited it will live in homes and through time, what a wonderful thing a book is.”

Ensemble by David Luraschi is published by Loose Joints and is available now via www.loosejoints.biz. The Ensemble book shop opens in Marseille, France, on Friday, 16 July.