06 March 2011

Hervé Guibert

Yesterday I saw an exposition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. It was a retrospective of 230 prints of Hervé Guibert's photographs. He was born in 1955 in Paris and died in 1991 of AIDS. He was openly gay and photographed his lovers often. He was a writer and filmmaker as well. I think the reason I'm so attracted to his photographs is because they look always like a work in progress. I got the impression from viewing so many of them together that they are all connected like pieces of the same puzzle, and that he was constantly a student in his craft, experimenting but keeping it simple. He photographed bedrooms, people, objects, shadows, and himself, all from very interesting angles. 

There were quotes from his journal written on the wall of the exposition too, and one of them said something to the effect of, I hesitate always to call myself a photographer. Once you realize that everything is photographable, you start taking pictures, and you don't know where to stop, and you think you're missing out on every single moment of every day that you're not capturing on film. I'm not putting it in quotes because that's not the exact quote, but it was the idea. I saw this quote at the very beginning of the show, and was hooked for the rest of it.

So I promptly visited the librairie and bought his journal, Le mausolée des amants: Journal 1976-1991. It's quite a thick book, published in French, but I started reading it on the métro and it's not too hard to get through. It's fascinating, actually. There aren't many of his photographs available to view online, but I recommend that every person who enjoys looking at images search out a way to look at his work. My day yesterday started out as a bit of a bummer, but I left the show feeling completely inspired.

I also read the essay by Paul Graham, "Photography is Easy, Photography is Hard" (2009) (discovered via the blue hour), and it's been sticking with me since I read it.

In the end, it's all just so much. But it's a muchness I really enjoy.

A few hours later, and I've found the quote in my book. I thought it would be on page 217 or something like that, but it's actually on page 33.

en français:
« Je me défendrai toujours d'être un photographe : cette attraction me fait peur, il me semble qu'elle peut vite tourner à la folie, car tout est photographiable, tout est intéressant à photographier, et d'une journée de sa vie on pourrait découper des milliers d'instants, des milliers de petits surfaces, et si l'on commence pourquoi s'arrêter? »

in english:
"I will always defend myself from being a photographer : this love makes me scared, it seems that it can quickly turn to madness, because everything is photographable, everything is interesting to photograph, and from one day your life you could dissect millions of moments, millions of little surfaces, and if you start it, why stop yourself?"


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