We met Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi, co-founder of Chose Commune, an independent publishing house dedicated to photography books, based in Paris. She kindly received us to tell us about this project founded with photographer Vasantha Yogananthan.
Who are you, and tell us about how you got to where you are now ?
I was born in Paris to a French father and a Japanese mother. I was brought up in several different countries, not just France. When I graduated from high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, I was interested in so many different things! So, I took some time out and went to live in Taiwan for a year. On my return, I enrolled to study foreign languages at university. I continued to nurture my interest in the visual arts, especially photography, by doing a series of internships in galleries and museums, which then led me to work exclusively in this field. Then, later on, I gave up everything to set up my own publishing house.
When and why did you start your own publishing house ?
I created Chose Commune in 2014 with my partner Vasantha Yogananthan, who is a photographer. We are both passionate about books, but it was the desire to publish Vasantha’s work that encouraged us to take the plunge. Vasantha was looking for a publisher for his first collection of photographs called Piémanson. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to achieve so we thought, why not do it ourselves? From the outset, our plan was to publish other photographers too. It was a struggle and for a long time I had a part-time job. But for the past two years, I have been working full-time at Chose Commune. No month is ever the same, but not once have I ever regretted my decision.
How do you make your editorial choices ?
Our choices are often instinctive; we don't have just one genre of photographic interest. We like to build a relationship over a period of time with our photographers: it can easily take several months, and sometimes even one or two years before we reach publication. When we discover a photographer’s work that we like, we don’t rush the process. We talk a lot with the photographer, until we are sure that we are ready to make a book together. For us, publishing a book is not to be entered into lightly. Unlike an exhibition, a book is here to stay.
What was the last book published by Chose Commune ?
We recently published two books in September: Halfstory Halflife by the American photographer Raymond Meeks, who, over the course of several summers, ventured out only a couple of miles from his home not far from the Catskill Mountains in New York State, to a place where the local youth hang out under a bridge by a waterfall. And we published Dandaka, the fourth chapter in Vasantha's ongoing series, which centres on a contemporary interpretation of the myth of the Ramayana in India and Sri Lanka.
Which photographer would you love to publish one day ?
That's hard to say! As I said before, it’s more about the relationship we build with the artists we meet. Even if there are obviously artists whom I admire enormously, at Chose Commune it’s more about the body of work and our vocation to publish a specific piece of work than about individual artists. There first has to be a piece of work that interests us, and we also need to appreciate the person behind the art. To create things that mean something, I believe that mutual respect is essential.
What is your relationship with fashion ?
Fashion is a means of expression like any other. I like brands which break free from current trends and codes of dress. For me, fashion is also a commitment. In recent years, I have been buying less but better. I pay a lot of attention to the materials, which I prefer to be natural, as well as to their origin. I lean towards second hand or vintage items and if I fall in love with a piece from a new collection, I want to be sure I can keep it for a very long time.
Is there a fashion photographer you particularly like ?
What is your favourite outfit for work ?
Comfort comes first ! Loose but feminine cuts, beautiful fabrics.
What does Sessùn mean to you ?
Travelling, curiosity, and sunshine (even in winter !)
Your favourite piece of clothing or accessory from the current collection ?
The Ginetta jacket, in misty rose color.
A superpower you would like to have ?
Teleportation, there are always so many places I would like to be at the same time.