Friday, June 24, 2011

Along the French roads… (Part 2)

After a long introduction (along the Frenchroads… Part 1), I’d like to believe that like me you were looking forward to discovering French landscapes and see what France really has to offer. Everyone knows about the mystic glamour of the French Riviera and the envious image of Paris, presumably romantic capital of the world. But who knows about its tortuous roads, its deserted countryside, its historic villages and its colorful old local shops? So let’s immerse ourselves in the French territory by following French photographers who have explored its deepest and best kept secrets…
Raymond Depardon
The best way to start this series is by looking at Raymond Depardon’s photography. He was part of the DATAR group of photographers and since then has continued photographing his beloved country. During 5 years alone on the road in his van, with his large format camera, Raymond Depardon traveled through the French territory to draw the real portrait of a country outside of its touristic clichés. What he gives us to see is the backstage, the behind the scenes, the soul and heart of a country. If you’re French, it’s a France that you know, maybe the France you grew up in or where your grand parents live, where you went on holidays as a kid. It’s the France of our memories, a France everyone has seen, a France we love but never photograph. Grey and colorful, melancholic and joyful, attached to its tradition but also ready to reinvent itself, it’s a territory of contrast where mutations happen slowly. Depardon’s images bring us closer to a part of ourselves we almost forgot. They mirror the contradictions of the country: familiar and surprising, contemporary and timeless, banal and aesthetically beautiful. La France de Raymond Depardon was exhibited in Paris end of last year and a beautiful book recalls Depardon’s adventures along the French roads…
« La France de Raymond Depardon » © Raymond Depardon / Magnum photos / CNAP
Cachet-Commercy – Meuse
Realite – vers Issoire (Puy-de-Dome)
“La France de Raymond Depardon” © Raymond Depardon / Magnum photos / CNAP
“La France de Raymond Depardon Raymond Depardon / Magnum photos / CNAP” ©
“La France de Raymond Depardon Raymond Depardon / Magnum photos / CNAP” ©
“La France de Raymond Depardon Raymond Depardon / Magnum photos / CNAP” ©
Nievre – Neuvy-sur-Loire © Raymond Depardon
More images on Magnum site:
A great article with audio explanations by Depardon (in French):
An interview (in French):
And a few citations I particularly like and that I tried to translate in English:
‘Half of France is blue and half of France is yellow’

‘In Paris colour is vulgar, elsewhere it’s resistance’

‘A Paris la couleur c’est vulgaire, mais ailleurs c’est de la resistance.’

‘Les fruits et legumes c’est la France d’aujourdhui.’

‘Fruits and vegetables, that’s today’s France.’

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