Friday, September 16, 2011

Photography from every angle (Part 1) - An afternoon at la MEP, Paris (Maison européenne de la photographie)

Drôles de zèbres [et autres créatures] © Xavier Lambours
Last week I was in Paris. If you love photography and have limited time there (as unfortunately I did this time) the one place to visit has to be la MEP.

I spent (too much) time exploring 4 different shows: Xavier Lambours, XL; Generation de l'air, Jane Evelyn Atwood (1976-2010) and L'ombre de la guerre (the shadow of War). No need to say that I was really looking forward to the Atwood exhibition and that this was the main objective of my visit. But I discovered much more…
Discovery, amazement, confusion, empathy, sadness, shame, overwhelm. I smiled, I nearly cried, I stopped breathing for a few seconds… Ok, I might be exaggerating here but really the experience was worth the trip! It made me question myself, our society, the world and photography. As soon as I went back home happy, fulfilled and exhausted, I knew that I had to try to explain my experience. I also knew that it would raise questions and digressions that will take me time to process, explore and express before writing... But here I am, remembering again my experience and trying to detail each part of it.


I started my visit by the basement where the large black and white photos of Xavier Lambours where exhibited. Xavier Lambours belong to this category of photographers who have been part of the French photography landscape for years but certainly deserved more recognition, and especially outside of France. Nothing more than his date of birth on his wikipedia page… Amazing portrayer, XL has photographed with laid-back humor all the personalities of the French and international scene. His name appeared in the 80s when he started to photograph the Cannes Festival and its profusion of celebrities. But XL is not the photographer of one approach or one style. His photography tells that he has probably refused to be locked up in one unique role. Traveler, documenter, humorist in its way, he explores all genres and excels in every one of them. From documentaries in Yemen or about the French cyclist passion, from animals to nudes, from political portraits to street life, nothing can hide from XL’s lens.
The exhibition at la MEP shows 45 of his images and years of French political life… (With portraits of French political celebrities everyone might recognize now...)

Jacques Chirac, 1986 © Xavier Lambours
© Xavier Lambours

Generation Serge Gainsbourg, Chanteur, realisateur, Cannes 1983 © Xavier Lambours

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Paris, 1996 © Xavier Lambours

Chien méchant, Kyoto, Japon 1993 © Xavier Lambours
More on Xavier lambours: 

Generation de l'air

Walk up the stairs, pass the book shop, more stairs up to the first floor and here you are, entering a large room with walls covered by eclectic prints and magazine pages. ‘Generation de l’air’, the Air Generation or how to take the pulse of a new dynamic generation of photographers (mostly French or at best Europeans by the way…) The exhibition combines a collection of images published in De l’air, a French photography magazine since its launch in 2000. 11 years of images, series, documentaries, portraits, landscapes, nudes, stills that express the experiences of today’s photographers in today’s world.
The images displayed don’t follow any particular theme, any particular order but the originality and the sincerity of the work express the strength and diversity of today’s photographic language. There is no inferiority or superiority complex, no compromise in the work presented. There is no question about what belongs to galleries and what belongs to press, what belongs to the past and where photography is going. This is the future of photography, no question about that. A generation of engaged photographers with bright open eyes on the world around them, avid of discoveries, ready to express their personal feelings and share their hearts through unique and diverse photographic vision and expression. 

Peter Granser, Bikini Queen, Sun City, 2001

Julien Chatelin, Camp de refugies sahraouis a Tindouf, Algeri

Laurent Malau, La Foret, Nouvelle-Zelande

Linda Tuloup, La chambre Rose, 2009

Gregoire Korganow, Georges et Gregoire

Flore Ael Surun, Sur-Vie Sous, Entrance of the metro station Piata Victoriei, Bucharest (Romania)
By the way I’ve mentioned Flore Ael Surun as one of my selection for photographers that deserve more recognition for fototazo, and I believe she really does…

‘De l’air’ website and magazine are in French, but hey, no need to speak the language to understand photography, right:
The current issue is about ‘Tendance Floue’ a French collective I’ve mentioned here before…
I wish I could get the mags in the States though!

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