NYLON SONATA: Maxime Ballesteros’s Book “Les Absents”

French photographer Maxime Ballesteros is known for visualizing states of raw, sexual hyperdrive. His first book, Les Absents, is presented by Sang Bleu Publishing and Hatje Cantz and will launch on July 5th, 2017 with an opening at Johann König on Dessauer Str. 6-7 in Berlin. On the occasion of the release, Ballesteros gives 032c a guided tour of  the book Les Absents.

A tiny, minuscule fraction of the world from the past 8 years.
Half of it was dreamt. The other half, I witnessed.
Half of it is a self-portrait, maybe. The other half ejected me straight out from the frame.
All of it is a lie, from a certain point of view. At the same time, a palpable reality.
Like those moments when you wake up from a dream, scared or melancholic or ecstatic, and for an instant, the dream seems more real than the world you see with opened eyes.

This is a love story with the world and some of its inhabitants, broken-hearted every other day. A world of 14 billion eyes to attest your existence and 7 billion pairs of arms to hold you. Yet: the loneliest species.

There is this winter in Bretagne where the crystallised snow paints a portrait of your heart. Cages and ropes, spikes and blood. Because freedom is a precious, but scary thing.

Alone in the empty train, not wanting to be invisible. Naked in the streets of Tokyo, protected from our pollution. Drowning safely, phone in hand, by a five star hotel pool. Stung by the flower you love.

And there is a morning sonata caressed by nylon. Love letters written in fake blood, soft journeys through some winding roads, stretching time with so much simplicity, without even meaning to. And so much more to come.

“Trou Noir,” Berlin, 2014

“Armor,” Tokyo, 2014

“Benjo et regrets,” Saint Etienne, 2009

“Sita,” Paris, 2015

“Birds fighting,” Berlin-Dahlem, 2014

“Velvet Loop,” Berlin, 2017

“Birth of a Tree,” 2011

“Bronze’s Tenderness,” Berlin, 2012

“Celyn,” Berlin-Weissensee, 2014

Maybe it’s a book about fear.

Fear of death and its contrary. Fear of
desire. Fear of love.

of the truth. Of reality.

A primal fear, almost ancestral. Which was born with your first breath,

and will only leave you, finally, at your last.

But we don’t do books about fear. So it should be about something else.

Is it not for your vertigo, that you strive to climb trees, buildings, cranes or rocks;
only to lean over once too far from the ground,
and contemplate at the void,

melting under your feet?

“Cinderellas,” Costa Paradiso, 2016

“Crepuscule,” Berlin, 2016

“Crystals,” Andouillé, 2017

“Dead and Living Dogs,” San Miguel, 2012

“Distorting Mirror,” Paris, 2015

“Dog with Pearl Eyes,” Berlin, 2012

If the storm had not

ravaged the forest,

they would have gone picnicking this afternoon.

“Drive-in,” Prokoško, 2015

“Family Affairs,” Tokyo, 2014

“First Date,” Berlin-west, 2013

“First Love,” Berlin, 2014

“Food Delivery,” Berlin, 2011

“Full Moon,” Mexico, 2016

“Gourmet Ogress,” Mexico, 2016

His heart

was so heavy that it

was falling on his balls,

causing a discrete erection.

“Half-Bride,” Berlin, 2013

“Heat Wave,” Mexico, 2016

“Home Alone,” Berlin, 2016

“Homework,” Berlin, 2016

“Infinite Garden,” Ma-me-mo Beach, AB, 2012

“Infinity Jump,” Haute Provence, 2013

Giving a name to his genitals

might seem ridiculous,

but for Pierre,

it was the start of a new life as a couple.


“It’s time to fight,” Berlin, 2013

“Le cul dans le raisin,” Condrieux, 2009

“Left Over,” Paris, 2012

“Les Absents,” Berlin, 2014

“Lonely Nights,” Prades, 2016

“Marble Palette,” Berlin, 2016

“Marc”, Berlin, 2017

J. sleeps restlessly on the bed, dressed and wearing heels over the covers.

It is winter but strangely it’s not very cold.
Not even very grey. Days pass and you are more and more broke,
you find less and less solutions. Actually, you don’t really try.
You hope. You wait quietly.


Somebody knocks. You don’t know who it is. You open the
switchblade that you keep nailed to the door. It’s the downstairs
neighbor, his flat is flooded. He came to check how it was at yours.
You hide the knife and put it discreetly back in its place.

J. does not wake up. She has slipped under the duvet. It is 5 o’clock in the morning.


“Maya,” Paris, 2016

“Mirror,” Haute-Provence, 2014

“Mise en Abîme,” Gstaad, 2014

“Mob,” Saint Etienne, 2009

“Mystery Lake,” Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2015

“Mornings,” St Etienne, 2008

“Nuit Blanche,” Stockholm, 2015

Pierre would have gone to the seaside this summer, but he was

afraid he’d get his cellphone wet.

It’s decided, he will stay home,
and count his pimples.


“Nylon Trap,” Berlin, 2017

“Party Time,” Peipin, 2013

“Peine de Coeur,” Berlin, 2015

“Road to Manchester,” 2015

“Rossy,” Berlin, 2012

“Sharp Nights,” Berlin, 2017

He was proud and

serene like an old goat,



“Soft journey, through the winding roads,” Provence, 2009

“Sunbath,” Prades, 2016

“Swans in the Staircase,” Berlin, 2014

“The House of Fun,” Morro Bay, 2012

“Tourists,” Berlin, 2014

“Valerie,” Berlin, 2015

“Winter Siren,” Zermatt, 2016

“Warm Afternoon,” Costa Paradiso, 2016

Excerpts from Maxime Ballesteros’s, Les Absents, published by Hatje Cantz Verlag / Sang Bleu Publishing, 2017. 


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