Imagine being photographed walking up a tree or on water… enter the upside down world of Philippe Ramette

French artiste Philippe Ramette has a knack for defying gravity. As The Upside Down World Of Philippe Ramette reveals. It is a series of photographs that capture him looking at the world from a completely different angle. If you really want to understand him, you’ll just have to alter your perception. In his works, you discover not just that his feats are real, but also that he’s a man who keeps pushing himself over the edge.

At first glance, walking vertically up a tree or a mountain or even walking on water seem to suggest a hint of the mystical. Or, magic even. Because he works hard to make his feats seem natural. But look closer, and you’ll see exactly how he feels when he does them.

In ‘Je m’excuse pour hier soir’ (I apologize for last evening), he’s standing at the edge of a rocky cliff, holding a board with those words. He looks lost, perhaps staring at a distance, but you’ll notice his fingers are tightly clutching the wooden board. His ‘Balcony’ series is rather lovely, if you take it at face value. In one, he’s standing on a balcony-like ledge that seems to be sticking out of a vertical sea. He’s looking at a rather lop-sided silhouette of Hong Kong. In another, he seems to be stepping out of the ground, much like a real-life Alice In Wonderland, and stands on a balcony. In the former, you see him gripping the wooden rail so hard that his hands are white. In the latter, you notice a small wooden block, in front of which he places his legs so as to hold him in that position.

Hold your breath!

His ‘Rational Exploration Of The Under Sea’ series is a delight. In ‘traditional walk’, he seems to be walking out of a vertical wall of water, stepping on to large boulders. There are others where he attempts to scale a mountain under the sea (‘The Ascent’), stand on a pedestal like a statue (‘The Pedestal’ ) and ‘The Break’, where he’s sitting on an underwater rock, his backpack behind him. In all the images, you see he’s holding his breath.

Philippe sometimes seems like a magical being, who sits on lopsided chimneys, on walls, lies vertically in air from the edge of his table and stands atop a hill with a hot air balloon tied to his head. And in all of them, his face seems lost in thought or serene. It is these little things that make you realise he’s human.

(The Upside Down World Of Philippe Ramette is on display in association with Alliance Francaise and Apparao Galleries at No. 7, Wallace Gardens, Third 3 Street, Nungambakkam, till November 16)