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Bernard Chevalier


Resonances of the Great West

In Ireland, at least as far as I could see from Galway on the west coast, the sea is not easily accessible. The coastal paths are almost non-existent and the territory everywhere criss-crossed by immemorial low walls and electrified enclosures or stopped by vertiginous cliffs do not facilitate wild crossings. Failing to walk between land, sky and sea, I took the bus and the landscape passed before my eyes like a film on the screen of my window. Too fast, of course. I shot like we throw harpoons with the hope that chance or the mysteries of photography will manage to fix some of my visions.

Finally, my photos could have been taken as well in Scotland as in Canada or on the west coast of the United States on the side of Vancouver even way of Patagonia, in short in a lot of corners of the Atlantic or Pacific coast that I do not know not but where I have dreamed of going for so long. As if I had somehow been the set photographer of an imaginary road movie nourished for years by books, films and photographs. My change of scenery would have been less aroused by my encounters with unknown landscapes than by this jubilant effect of surprise and recognition mixed together. In this sense, my photos evoke less the disturbing strangeness dear to Freud than the familiar strangeness specific to certain postcards. Writing on Wales, and in particular on Eugene Smith and Robert Franck who photographed it, the writer Jean-Christophe Bailly puts it differently and much better than me when he defines the experience of travel as that “through which one lets persist in itself the resonance of places that we had never seen before and which respond to the imagination like strict and relevant echoes” (Saisir, Quatre aventures galloises).

Bernard Chevalier

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