Célia Hay

Artist Website


The work of Célia Hay (b. 1991, France) questions image production with a highly physical approach to the image. She is interested in what happens between individuals during the shooting of images, and aims to capture their interaction and the deeper connection at that very moment. Hay’s images show people spacing out, during moments of wandering or waiting. She looks for something that slips from them and cannot be grasped – an inner experience.

Obake (ghost in Japanese) is a photographic series that aims to transcribe the act of walking as a performative process of creating images. The word ghost in Japanese can be translated as ‘the things that change’, and Hay considered ghosts as some shapes or events that gradually change as we look for them or stare at them rather than a myth strictly speaking. Every night for two weeks, she shot pictures during systematic walks together with Marie Sommer. They could be alone or accompanied, either way deciding where they would go or simply walking randomly; the only rule was to walk all night long and every night.

The series shows silhouettes fading in the dark, the fragile fleeting traces of apparitions met during long nocturnal walks in the Kansai region of Japan. We see the darkness of the surroundings and the highlights of both animate and inanimate subjects. It is a search for nothingness, and during the wanderings Hay noticed a shift in her fellow traveler’s emotion, slightly moving to sweet madness. This physical and mental journey through deserted landscapes establishes the act of wandering as an active way of creating images.

This series is part of a corpus made in collaboration with Marie Sommer during a residency at the Kyoto Art Center. A publication of the project Obake is in the making. The work of Célia Hay is in the first edition of FRESH EYES: a catalogue initiated by GUP featuring 100 of the most talented European photographers currently in the first stage of their career.