Gianni Berengo Gardin
Noel Le Boyer
Elliott Erwitt / Philippe Bordas / Sarah Moon / Luc Choquer / Yousouf Wachill / On the road -Group show
Sarah Moon - Piedmont: a definition
This exhibition, organized in collaboration with Agarttha Arte, is part of the project entitled "Piedmont: a definition", an ongoing collection of commissioned work by major photographers. Following on from Alain Fleischer in 2007, William Klein in 2008 and Gabriele Basilico in 2009, Sarah Moon has been given carte blanche to produce an artistic work focusing on the Royal Theatre in Turin. Sarah Moon has created a compelling evocation of this wonderful theatre, where timeless features of the stage and backstage areas recall the world of Lewis Caroll, tales by Hans Christian Andersen, and Shakespeare's tragedies.
"Years ago, in winter, late at night, jut after arriving in Turin, I wanted to lose myself alone in the streets. Following in Maria Callas' imaginary footsteps, I found myself in front of the Royal Theatre, where she directed The Sicilian Vespers for the reopening of the theatre that had been rebuilt after the fire. When I was asked to photograph the Teatro, I gladly gathered together the threads of this unfinished dream: allowing myself to be possessed by the lights and shadows of the stage, by the music and voices which still echo through this historic theatre, the dreamchild of Juvarra, Alfieri, Cocito and Mollino" Sarah Moon
Exhibition and catalogue produced with support from the Piedmont Regional Council, Fondation CRT, Compagnia di San Paolo, and Bentley S.o.A S.p.A.
Philippe Bordas -L'Arique heroique
Writer and photographer Philippe Bordas began his African experience in 1988, sharing the everyday lives of Kenyan boxers in Mathare Valley, the largest slum in Africa. In 1993, he met the artist and writer Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, whose poetic journey he celebrates in L'invention de l'écriture (The Invention of Writing) (Fayard, 2010). Between 1994 and 1999, he entered the closed world of Senegalese wrestling. The lives of boxers and wrestlers provided the theme for his book L'Afrique à poings nus (Africa with Bare Fists) (Seuil, 2004. Awarded the Prix Nadar), the first part of an ongoing trilogy which formed the subject of an exhibition in 2004 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. In early 2001, in Bamako, Philippe Bordas discovered a resuscitated army of hunters from all over West Africa who had not come together for almost seven centuries. He followed their movements over a period of seven years. The exhibition brings together these three projects carried out in Africa between 1988 and 2008.
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
A poor child from the primeval forest of Daloa in the centre of Ivory Coast, he fled the work imposed by the country's colonial rulers. A brilliant self-taught scholar, he lied his way into a White school and fell under the spell of Western poets and writers. In a Black continent deprived of an alphabet and dominated by oral traditions, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré received the divine revelation of a mission to invent an authentic writing system for Africa in order to preserve the memory of its culture.
Bruly Bouabré invented a specifically African writing system, taking inspiration from the patterns drawn on sacred volcanic rocks in his native region.
He invented pictograms and developed a coherent syllabic system that was immediately praised by the great humanist thinker Théodore Monod.
Bruly Bouabré built up a vast encyclopedic treasury of tales, legends and drawings, written in school exercise books or on the backs of little pieces of cardboard the same size as tarot cards - none other than the packaging for Darling brand false hairpieces salvaged from hairdressers' dustbins in Abidjan. Today Bruly Bouabré is the greatest living African artist, and his works are exhibited all over the world. His poetic artworks form a manifesto for the disenfranchised: people whose only politics is verbal genius and the printing of names.
Philippe Bordas L'Afrique à poings nus/Africa With Bare Fists It's not about sport. There's no winner. There's no loser.
It's just about a ritual between men who have been chosen to fight. In these no man's lands annihilated by globalization and roasted by the IMF, landless men still survive. The violent protocols of boxing and bare-fisted wrestling make these men into heroes. On the far eastern side of Africa : Nairobi, Kenya. On the far western side: Dakar, Senegal. On one side, English boxing.
Fifty boxers hidden away in a Sunday school meeting room in the heart of the giant slum of Mathare Valley. Sweating bodies in a room deliberately starved of oxygen, like flayed figures blurred under a faltering neon light, galvanized by the ghost of Mohammed Ali, their minds burning with the noble ascetic pursuits of the White world : boxing and Christian mysticism. On the other side, Senegalese wrestling.
Replete, rested bodies. An open-air confrontation in arenas of Senegal sand. A ritual jousting match in the heart of the towns and villages. A socialized, musical duel, unviolated by the influence of the Whites. Wrestlers rooted in their own land, not dreaming of America. Wrestlers untrammelled by the magical words of marabouts or the song of the drums, protected from the world by the chorus of women and the warrior poems born in the roots of their land.
On one side of Africa, boxing in a cell.
Fighting as a dizzying form of self-destruction. Fighting against oneself.
On the other side, open-air wrestling.
Fighting as a poetic unfolding and a link to invisible forces.
Les chasseurs du Mali/The Hunters of Mali
Bristling with amulets and talismans, armed with rifles preserved from time immemorial, they are the intact memory of the African Middle Ages.
Descendents of the elite army corps of the Malian Empire, they wear the same costumes and obey the same laws as the riders and soldiers of King Soundjata Keïta (1190-1255).
The hunters ignore the borders that were drawn under colonial rule and live in most of Western Africa, in modern Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinée Bissau, Mauritania, and parts of Ivory Coast. They ignore totalitarian regimes, instead following the oral democratic code of Keïta's empire, which stretched from the Sahara to the Equatorial forest and from the Atlantic to the River Niger. Keïta's reign was a time of peace and prosperity when Islam and animism coexisted and during which slavery was abolished. After centuries of tribal war and trade in humans, Keïta gathered together the armies from his small kingdoms and supplanted those of his rival Soumaoro Kanté in 1235. He built his capital in Niani, Guinea, near the border with Mali. The Empire of Mali founded a slaveless society ruled on egalitarian principles, a political organization that may prefigure later western democratic constitutions.
The hunters form a freemason-like brotherhood in which new members are co-opted, irrespective of their birth, their origin or their class.
These living legends represent village authority and are the depositories of justice as well as poetic and genealogical oral traditions. They are also the masters of therapeutic and magical knowledge and time-honoured hunting skills. Against the corruption and chaos generated by neo-colonialism and the systematic erasure of memory instilled by liberal globalization, the underground transnational power of these traditional hunters forms one of the spiritual foundation stones of Africa: an active utopia.
Yousouf Wachill - Effacements
Organized by Jean-Claude Lemagny
Every year the Maison Européenne de la Photographie gives carte blanche to Jean-Claude Lemagny, a major figure in the world of photography. This year, he presents the series entitled "Effacements" by Yousouf Wachill.
The space we live in is full of images bathed in light. Our photographs intercept some of them, freezing them and offering them to our enduring gaze. The photographer uses his eye and his entire body to move through the space that stretches between the photosensitive material and the object he wishes to capture visually. This space is that of his freedom: between reality that offers itself up and the camera that records it, the photographer decides on the distance, the angle, and the direction of the light. But the photographer knows that this slice of intermediate space where his liberty roams is inhabited by potential images, some coming forward, others retreating, some growing and others vanishing. Yousouf Wachill wants to show this profusion of images that is usually forgotten. The photographed object, sharp and motionless, is just an anchor point whence springs the majestic or frenetic life of forms which, from the depths of the sky, move around in space.
Faces come to meet us and overflow the strict limits of their volume. They express the feeling of radiating presence that comes from someone who is here. It is a well known fact that good portraitists are often not very good at remembering faces. This is because they have become used to scrutinizing facial structures for their own sake, whereas we recognize people thanks to the fleeting expressions that flash across their faces. satire and melancholy. Wachill has turned this situation on its head. He is interested in the aura of faces, in what emanates from them and continues to float in the air like the Cheshire Cat's smile. But this is not about psychology; these are forms which, however impalpable, still occupy space. It puts us in mind of those white or black clouds that drift lightly but contain tons of water and massive electrical charges. They blend together, drift apart, and sometimes form troubling faces in the sky.
Luc Choquer - Les francais
Luc Choquer met men and women living in France during portrait sessions for magazines; these photo shoots very often resulted in profound encounters involving a real dialogue between photographer and model. Luc Choquer decide to put together an entire project focusing on people he met going about their daily lives. He asked them to pose for him with complete freedom, and collected their written and spoken words.
"Over the past years I've felt I was living in a period of radical change, at the end and the beginning of a rough, chaotic, dizzying, and truly pivotal century. People will probably later refer to this period as a transition towards a new "middle ages" or a "renaissance". This feeling made me want to stop looking for the meaning of things at the ends of the earth, and seek it instead in my next door neighbours: men and women we all meet every day and whom we think we know without realizing how incredibly unique they are. Fragility and madness can rub shoulders with normality. It's a narrow line we all tread, and it explains my choice of radicality in these portraits, and also my desire to record spoken and written words; those words which, unlike in journalistic interviews, seem to escape from people's lips rather than being uttered. Some of these portraits are accompanied by excerpts from a Proustian questionnaire coordinated with the help of Bernard Pelosse (a psychologist and writer) and recorded on video by Philippe Roméo. These portraits refer to that which is collective; they ask questions."
Luc Choquer, September 2006
On the road
Marcel Bovis, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Daniel Boudinet, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Thibaut Cuisset, Raymond Depardon, Robert Doisneau, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Mario Giacomelli, René-Jacques, François Kollar, Joseph Koudelka, Noël Le Boyer, Ikko Narahara, Bernard Plossu, Robert Rauschenberg, Bruno Réquillart, Willy Ronis, Lucien Roy, Jeanloup Sieff, Christine Spengler, Joel Sternfeld, Shoji Ueda
On the Road is a selection of prints on the theme of the road, taken from the collections of the Médiathèque de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. The exhibition presents the dreamlike visions of some major 20th century photographers who recorded intense moments in transit. Always in search of their next image, they naturally found themselves on the road, which became an antichamber for imagined subjects, a place for experimentation, and an ideal setting for snapshots. These photographers suggest the road more than they actually show it, a nuance which means that they eliminate any documentary aspect, instead allowing us to give free rein to our imagination and memory. On the Road showcases what might be termed escapist photography: a brief parenthesis, time to breathe for a fleeting instant, away from the chaotic turmoil of the world.
The exhibition is based on an original idea by BMW.
Elliott Erwitt - Personal Beast
3 February - 4 April 2010
The Maison Européenne de la Photographie presents a retrospective of the work of Paris-born American photographer Elliott Erwitt.
As its title suggests, the exhibition is based on Elliott Erwitt's own selection of favourite images. Featuring over 130 pictures including original prints that have seldom been seen before, it retraces Erwitt's sixty-year career. A photographer since 1948 and a member of Magnum Photos since 1953, he is a sharp, sometimes mischievous observer of everyday life; among his favourite subjects are children, dogs, beaches, politics and celebrities. A witness to the major events of the 20th century, this master of the instant is also a tireless wit, a subtle and poetic humorist whose work combines satire and melancholy. As he says, "Some people say my pictures are sad, some think they're funny. Funny and sad, aren't they really the same thing?" Elliott Erwitt has also made a number of documentary films, some of which can be seen at the MEP video library during the exhibition period.
Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928 to Russian emigrés and grew up in Italy and France. His family emigrated to the USA in 1939, first settling in New York and then Los Angeles.
Elliott Erwitt went to Hollywood High School, at the same time working in a commercial photo lab where he developed prints of film stars 'signed' for their fans. In 1949, he returned to Europe where he travelled and began his professional career. Conscripted into the US army in 1951, he continued to take photographs for several publications - completely removed from his work in the army - during postings to New Jersey, Germany and France. Purely by chance, when he went to look for work in New York before his military service, he met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker who liked his photographs and took him under their wing, becoming his mentors. In 1953, soon after his military service, Elliott Erwitt, sponsored by Robert Capa, joined Magnum Photos. He worked for Life magazine and took part in the famous exhibition The Family of Man at the MOMA in New York in 1955. For over 50 years his books, photojournalism, illustrations and publicity work have appeared in publications all over the world.
In the 1970s he began making films in parallel with his photographic work, first documentaries and then, in the 1980s, satirical TV shows for HBO.
From the 1990s to the present, he has continued to lead an astonishingly varied professional life. He has produced over twenty books of photographs, recently including The Art of André S. Solidor A.k.a. Elliott Erwitt, Rome, New York, and Dogs. Major exhibitions of his work have been held at the MOMA, the Chicago Art Institute, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Centre National de la Photographie, Paris (Palais de Tokyo), the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Barbican in London, the Royal Photographic Society in Bath, the New South Wales Museum of Art in Sydney, the Spazio Oberdan in Milan, numerous galleries in Asia, and very recently at the Museo di Roma in Rome, where he looked back on fifty years of Roman history.
Exhibition organized in collaboration with Magnum Photos and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
Guided visits : available for groups, schools, subscribers and individuals. For further information, see "Current Events/Guided Visits".
Films : the MEP is screening a selection of documentaries by Elliott Erwitt. For further information, see Current Events/Films".
Catalogue : a catalogue is available, published by Éditions teNeues. For more information, see "Books and films/Books".
(c) Elliott Erwitt
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