Thursday, May 3, 2007

Carnet De Voyages by Le Point Du Jour Editeur

In the late nineties, the French publisher Le Point Du Jour Editeur released a series of photo booklets of various photographers paired with a writer. Each booklet averages ten pages and only holds about ten pictures and cost about ten dollars each. The series was called Carnet de Voyages and I think there were twelve different books published in this series.

What is nice about these booklets is the design. They are printed on long sheet of paper about 36 inches long and then accordion folded into the shape of a book. The trim size is 5 inches by 7 inches and most all of the series holds to that dimension. The photos take up the top half the space on a page and the text is below.

Most of these small booklets were dedicated to the work of relatively little known photographers. Out of the twelve, I only knew two of the names. De Mala Muerte by Antoine d’Agata and L’Au-Dela Est La by Paolo Pellegrin. Other photographers in the series are: Jerome Schlomoff, Christophe Bourguedieu, Dieder Ben Loulou, Denis Roche, Jean-Christian Bourcart, Raymond Marcherel, Djan Seylan, Dolores Marat, Laurie Vasconi and Christopher Taylor.

De Mala Muerte by Antoine d’Agata (1998 Carnet de Voyages Numero 5) takes us on a small journey into a bar in Tijuana Mexico where we drink with the locals and then spend the rest of the night in a hotel room with a prostitute. For those of you that are aware of Agata’s work, this has the same dark, dreary world of beaten spirits and exhausted lives feeding on intoxication and sex in pursuit of escape. The subjects seem slapped down for simply asking to be loved.

Shot in 35mm the photographs have the same gritty sensibility as the surroundings they describe. Agata’s camera often has a physical quality to the images, embracing blur and motion that adds to our sense of intoxication. The text by Paco Ignacio Taibo II feeds us the verbal equivalent of the photographs. These images would also be included in Agata’s book Mala Noche (1998 En Vues).

L’Au-Dela Est La by Paolo Pellegrin (2000 Carnet de Voyages Numero 10) is made up of images from Bosnia and give a child’s view of conflict and the physical and psychological damage that occurs. Using a square format camera Pellegrin describes the landscape and children not a photojournalistic way, but more akin to how Ralph Eugene Meatyard might have approached the subject. The photographs are poetic in their form and content yet still vent the concerns of a 1996 Bosnian world.

I find this work much more compelling than his more recent work. He achieves a quick portrait of the inner and external lives of children forced to grow up quicker than they should have to. The only evidence of adults here is the violence seen in the landscape. The text is by Regis Jauffret.