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Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson opens 'Traverser' by Raymond Depardon
Glasgow, Écosse, 1980 © Raymond Depardon / Magnum Photos.

PARIS.- From 13 September to 17 December 2017, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson is presenting Traverser by Raymond Depardon. Writer, photographer and director, he seems to be able to do it all. This exhibition hinges on four main themes: La terre natale [homeland] in dialogue with Le voyage [journey] then La douleur [pain] in dialogue with L’enfermement [confinement]. With writing as the Ariadne’s thread, this exhibition invites on a journey through the artist’s work from his beginnings at Le Garet Farm until today.

It’s not easy to produce a book and an exhibition of Raymond Depardon’s pictures which take in the full breadth of his work. There are too many possibles. He’s covered all aspects of real life photography, from his first hesitant steps at Le Garet Farm, to celebrity hideouts, from reporting for the press to independent documentaries.

With Depardon, writing and film offer two very different temporalities: writing is primarily listening to yourself, daring to impose your own rhythm faced with what comes along, the famous “absences” of the photographer. Film is primarily about listening to someone else, the silence of the cameraman. Avoiding the rhetoric of compassion which has never appealed to him, creating slightly ordinary, calm images, without any particular eloquence, but full of emotion; a clear agenda that leads him alternately into intentional wandering and/or the decisive production of an archive to be passed on.

Finding his inclination; this was the desire mentioned by Depardon when he’d already published two books, Notes and Correspondance new-yorkaise, which largely helped to forge his identity as a photographer: the meeting point between photography of the real and the imaginary, between street photos and the phantoms of the absent, often materialised by accompanying texts. Writing then imposed itself, at the same time as film, as if to pick up the thread of lost time, after the decision to give up composed subjects created for the press. How can we get to the heart of this approach? What threads do we have to pull to share this particular temporality of non-decisive but essential moments? This exhibition offers a possible solution, encompassing almost sixty years of photographs, shown together for the first time. Returning to La terre natale (the homeland) is constant and inevitable for the artist. From Villefranche-sur-Saône where he grew up, to Paris, his adopted land, this territory is a strong anchoring point between his many trips. Le Voyage (the journey), the incessant comings and goings have made him an expatriate of the interior. A witness of La douleur (the pain) in his many reports and sensitive to it, Raymond Depardon also maintains a complex relationship with L’enfermement (the confinement).

The exhibition includes about one hundred prints, texts, films and documents by the author. The book, co-published with Éditions Xavier Barral, offers a more extensive selection of images, as well as a long hitherto unpublished interview with Agnès Sire, curator of the exhibition.

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