Caught by a sudden desire to tidy up a little miscellaneous hodgepodge installed by time in the small shed at the bottom of the family garden, hidden under some old planks, a gardener’s glove appeared to my eyes: that of my father! An intense emotional shock. All memories related to him have come to the surface like a wave. Especially since the texture of this glove, the wood that supports it, the light that floods the scene, make this meeting even more alive, which seems to me like a call. One way to say to me: Stop and look!
The need to illustrate this moment quickly became an imperative: to observe this place where my father has worked so often. So it’s about two or three square meters surrounding his shed or inside a little mysterious of it that a real poetic saga appeared to me. That of a plant material living and moving in time, magnified by a natural light that sculpts, dissects, exalts the simplest and most ordinary elements.
At the observation, it is a whole world usually ignored which reveals itself then. A world that tells a story, its story. She tells the story of this series of photographs combining aesthetic and philosophical interest. These allegorical images, capturing the slow degradation of these plants, constitute a real report on the passage of time. “The photograph,” writes Georges Perec, “is a challenge to disappearance.”
Here she plays her role perfectly by immortalizing the successive and very different stages of their inexorable disappearance. Molds, burstings, dislocation, and dryness are revealed to the attentive observer of astonishing and exciting wealth.
A richness that photography excels to seize, whether in color where the range of colors blithely shifts from the luminous exuberance to the sobriety of some gradients, or in black and white highlighting the mystery of things by a game of contrasts and the extent of its gray scale. Light finally reveals the life of simple things by making the reality of the world speak. This is what Paul Strand, in his property in Orgeval, said: want to photograph the world at the bottom of his garden. “I want to bring forth great emotions from small things”.
According to Walter Benjamin, things are not mere inanimate objects, envelopes filled with inert matter or passive objects that are at the disposal of the documentary gaze.
They are not stable in their state, thus exceeding the simple stage of the inanimate object. These images try to apprehend the subject … unless it is him who apprehends them. They trigger a brain activity that gives these objects a different meaning than their daily materiality. What was asked of Lamartine: “Inanimate objects do you have a soul / that attaches to our soul and the strength to love”.
The still life is the ideal opportunity to dig closer to the material of these objects and give them increased strength. His powers of encouragement, suggestive or metaphorical are multiple. Hence a certain personification that becomes allegorical. Some of these images are close to the so many “Vanities” in 17th century painting. They associate the symbol of time, of the brevity of life with the everyday objects of human activity.
These stops on the image, exalting the materials and the forms, the contrasts between the weight and the lightness, between the stridence and the chant, constitute a simple but poignant dramaturgy on the existence of things and beings. Just as it illustrates a desperate struggle against disappearance and oblivion.
Jean-Claude Gautrand – Le Jardin de mon Père
Publisher: Association Photo#graphie
Selling price to the public (TTC): 13,00 €
92 pages; 19.00 x 13.00 cm; brooch