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A New Photographic Season at the Abbaye de l’Epau


Who said an exhibition always had to be indoors? For the past 12 years, the Abbaye de Clervaux in Le Mans has organized an annual photographic program around this historic 13th-century site. From June to October 6th local and international photographers are exhibited in the 13-hectare park, chosen by the Sarthe Regional Council.

A Journey of Photographic Walks

The exhibitions take place in the abbey park. The first artist featured is Hiêm Lam Duc, who has worked on trees in Iraqi Kurdistan. “It all started 30 years ago,” he explains. “I photographed children swinging on a tree. Later, I wanted to find that tree again. The locals helped me, and it took years. The Kurds have a special relationship with nature: trees are places for meetings and games. I even learned that they give names to trees!” Photos of trees from Kurdistan are displayed on the plane trees along an alley, offering viewers a beautiful mise en abyme.

Bernard Reignier: “From Image to Dream, Botanical Impressions”

In a style reminiscent of Impressionism, Bernard Reignier plays with light and movement in his photos. With patience and experimentation, he offers a dreamy view of the world around us, in harmony with the park of Clervaux.

Gérard Uféras: “The Heart of Sport, Portraits of a Passion”

Telling the story of sport and of practitioners is the project of photojournalist Gérard Uféras. Constructed in black and white, this series is interspersed with intimate stories of athletes: Anissa the boxer, Gaël the blind footballer, Malik the yamakazi, Daniel the rugby club president, Jules the 8-year-old footballer, Thierry the star chef and kandora, and Cécile the roller derby player. Both champions and amateurs share their passionate sports stories.

Nicolas Tarek Camoisson: Between Land and Sea

Now, let’s set sail with Nicolas Tarek Camoisson. The artist was passionate about photographing the sea: “To join the crew of the Gascogne, I underwent 6 months of training at the maritime school. The sea demands a lot of patience…” Exhibited are a herbarium and seaweed collection fixed in cyanotype, as well as documentary-style photos taken on the boat and others inspired by the poetry of the open sea.

Thierry Ardouin: Portrait of Seeds

Thierry Ardouin focused on seeds, a plant part almost invisible to the human eye but so precious. At the intersection of scientific and art photography, he shares these microscope images. “It took me 10 years to complete this project,” he recounts. “I photographed over 500 species of seeds, but only a dozen are exhibited here. In collaboration with the abbey’s gardeners, we planted the photographed seeds at the foot of each photo. Thus, over the summer, the plants will grow and change our perception of the photographs!” Nature becomes an integral part of the photographs.

Myrto Papadopoulos: Spirits Unseen

From Greece, we often know the Cyclades islands and Athens, but less so the mountainous regions where the Ponak minorities live. Myrto Papadopoulos focused on the women of this community, where patriarchal culture remains strong. The photographer documents the evolution of this society and is interested in the rites and riches of these people.

This photographic journey is enriched by the work of eight classes from Sarthe colleges, created during the “School of the Eye” program, led by professional photographers. They worked on the themes of exile, color, and the city, reconstructing some streets of Le Mans. From shooting to scenography, everything was designed by the teenagers. Their photographs are accompanied by other arts, creating collective installations.

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