Feb 22, 2011 12:00AM

Corinne Vionnet: Photo Opportunities

Corinne Vionnet composes remarkable works of art from the collective photographs of thousands of tourists.

THE KREMLIN, RUSSIA

The world, I am told, is a small place. This was made particularly evident to me one bright, Parisian winter morning when I spied my Year Four teacher sightseeing at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. So crazed was I with the delirium of coincidence that I spent the next twenty minutes covertly trailing the woman and snapping poorly focused photographs from behind cement pylons. I emailed these to my sister who confirmed that my suspicions were, in fact, accurate, and to this day, I am still amazed by the blurry, almost unrecognizable images of poor Mrs Lees on sabbatical.

MOUNT FUJI, JAPAN

Photographer Corinne Vionnet, I'd wager, would probably be more intrigued by this anecdote than anyone else I've ever regaled (the general response seems to be a blank expression followed by an insincere, "Wow!"). The Swiss-French artist has created a series of photographic works entitled Photo Opportunities, focusing on our shared experiences of major tourist destinations. The pieces are a veritable mille-feuille of typical tourist photos, layered sometimes three-hundred thick so as to create an extraordinary composite of the collective memory of thousands of visitors.

TIANANMEN SQUARE, CHINA

The hazy visions of major landmarks approximated by Vionnet recall classic painting but use material that is the very antithesis of the classical school: digital images. Vionnet sources the components of her images by painstakingly sifting through internet search results. A central focal point, usually that which remains consistent throughout the litany of photographs, is chosen, and from there the images are placed one upon the other.

MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA

'World Trade Center' is a particularly haunting composition. The spectral presence of the image's focal point is a disquieting homage to the transience of the modern cityscape. Plumes of smoke provide a ghostly halo and the evolving panorama can be glimpsed through multitudinous transparent layers.

WORLD TRADE CENTER, NEW YORK

The blurry, indistinct depictions in Photo Opportunities simultaneously evoke the fleeting nature of our personal memories and the commonality of our experiences. I like to think that within the indistinct, incorporeal crowds that inhabit Vionnet's work, my Year Four teacher is present while I take sneaky photos from behind a pylon.

KINDERDIJK, NETHERLANDS

Words: Lillian McKnight

www.corinnevionnet.com