Down Time

Etienne Buyse takes pictures of everyday life, of things that go unnoticed, of things that do not matter: of what happens when nothing happens, except for time, people, trains, buses and clouds. One of his projects is Temps d’arrêt  / Down Time.    

Temps d’arrêt?  

Waiting for a bus.

Resting for a while, thinking of nothing, or just about what really matters. 
Days go by. Sitting down and wondering about everyday life. Dodging the routine, the absurd. In short, a down time.

The real world? Where fear, chaos or boredom reign. Everywhere there are screens, like shields of glass: screens of televisions, computers, phones… Everywhere screens — not to mention the camera screen — as if to glaze over the real. To protect himself from it, to disguise it or to enchant the real, Buyse tries to put it in a box with a glass panel in front of it.

Does not this give the impression of exploiting a thematic vein?

Buyse responds: Yes, the risk exists but it does not matter. Because the project is also to exhaust a theme, to show everything about a place, to explore its banality so as to unearth the richness of emptiness.  A bit like Georges Perec in « Attempt of exhaustion of a Parisian place« , 1975.

Buyse explains: The infinite variety of lights, colors and beings that loom behind this glass, on this bench, within this corner panel and its interstices … all this, in this cage of ten square meters, seen from my own bench where I wait alone, fascinates me, appeases me and brings me joy.


Reflections of true artists drive somehow his work :

  • Pour qu’une chose soit intéressante, il suffit de la regarder longtemps.
    Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.
    Flaubert Lettre à Alfred Poitevin, sept. 1845)
  • L’œuvre d’art : un arrêt du temps
    The work of art : a stop time.
    Pierre Bonnard, Carnets.
  • La présence physique de la couleur, la joie qu’elle me procure est au cœur de mes préoccupations.
    The physical presence of color, the joy it gives me is at the heart of my concerns.
    Batho (interview)


Down time  is a Juror’s Pick in LensCulture’s Street Photography Awards 2017

Etienne Buyse’s project offered one of those very different approaches. Shooting through the bus stop shelter plastic brought a dreamy quality to the images created. The palette was very painterly and diffuse and bore a closer relation to impressionism than the gritty street work of some of the iconic images made by the masters of street photography. Still I thought the quality of alienation and isolation that is often an aspect of street work was present. The subjects were captured in a separate reality, both shielded and exposed.
Molly Roberts, Senior Photography Editor National Geographic Magazine USA


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Temps d’arrêt / Down time  also in 


Down time : old name Break Time