“First of all, a founding preamble, a barbed memory, one of those which engrave themselves in the living flesh of memory as a bruise, a necessary open wound because from this moment will arise something other than oneself.
25 years. A photo session with the family – a serious mistake but we did that then.
First the silence, then an ironic comment from the funny uncle, a few chuckles, then a cascade of jokes, all of them laughing together. The humiliation rising, the finger accelerates the remote control, by rage, spite. And then on the balcony, tears of shame, anger … never again …
And yet … a multitude of clicks later … Aix-en-Provence, strolls. Husband, father, doctor, photographer and questions looping in the head. Pedestrian streets. A second hand photo book seller, a long and narrow shop, the shelves on the left when entering, with for sales, end of series, damaged signs.
It falls into my hand, at a discount for its loose cover. Labyrinth. Dolores Marat. A small book, shy but firm, with a little guy hanging by the feet in the middle of a blue of the end of the day. Not a word, or almost, of Baudelaire to translate Edgar Allan Poe. And color pictures, a succession of oddities. It took me away. I paid quickly not looking very much. I fled in haste, as if afraid to have something under my arm that promised the danger of an upheaval. Or a joy. In any case a risk.
I knew the color, I liked it, I did it. Guy Bourdin, Cheyco Leymann, Helmut Newton … Or Ernst Haas, Franco Fontana, William Eggleston …
I settle down my book at the tip of my hands … and I was engulfed. It was dark, trembling, unreal, in an ill-defined time between darkness and artificial lights. It showed … what … a squalid building entrance, a dead pigeon on the wet macadam, a plastic tarpaulin in a shop window, truncated legs, a hung carcass of meat, heaps of fuzzy people, a trunk of tree with nothing around, stuff that I still have not figured out, and it ended with two angels on a hill in the storm, but two real angels I mean. Dolores Marat knows how to photograph angels …
I was stunned, it was the opposite of everything I had learned, what I thought I knew how to do, what I had liked so far in photography. But it was so hot … it was me. What I saw, what caught me … but that I did not photograph, or so little, in any case that I did not show, that I dared not even look at when I had done them. My mandarins crushed in the night, that brought tears (I thought I was disturbed, really, crying in front of squashed mandarins!), My ghostly models in the windows with no lights, the passers by too quickly passed, the unframed, the blurred, the under exposed, the officially failed, that sometimes contrite with the guilt of the bad student I threw, yes I threw slides in the trash how I regret.
Then Rives, Illusion, New York, huge, huge and expensive, but bought anyway, can I pay in two instalments please? I hunted down her books. And of course I started doing My Dolores Marat, I photographed red curtains, the backs of crowds, people in the movie theatres, out of focus dawns, pale street lights, flight of grim stairs, women on escalators , and lots of humans on the fly. Fortunately time has passed and I have learned to listen to my mental images without forgery, but when I take back today the books of Dolores, I measure how much she has shaped my gaze, and conditioned the hazards that built my photographs.
I gradually learned to photograph from within.
The outside was the impulse, but the truth was inside.
In December 2010 we met. Training with Dolores Marat at the Atelier De Visu. Marseille. Soraya, the director had predicted, you like what she does, but she, you’ll love her
First day, we presented our portfolios, she was so kind, she welcomed everything, with kindness. But I wanted to impress her so I showed her, and showed, and showed, as always. She said to me, with her voice coming out of her mass of hair – you almost never saw her face – Sir, I think I will not be able to bring you anything, you’ve done so much already.
Oh no, despair, of my “too much” chronicle, I had put her at a distance. Sleepless night. Torments of misery. What to do ? The course was taking place, the shootings followed one another, I did a little, I showed her, hmmm, yes, try again. But I was in love, we took walks, she would tell, she said we let them and go eat a pizza? But Dolores is 10am! Ah, so what? let’s go eat a pizza. And we became friends, I believe. It was so much more than a photographic approval, it was her permission to be close, to be like, to be.
To watch, to be impregnated by the sensations, to put my humanity, history, to tell pains – Dolores – to tell colors, to let them print the sensitive. The red like the tears of the models, the yellow like the breath of the dromedaries, the green like the twilights of the lost streets, the blue like the skin of the souls.
To dare say, to dare show, as one hears, as one feels, she knew how to make and authorise this, for this generations of fans lost in admiration, who were inspired and nourished by her incredible freedom. This freedom to look, to invent, to let emerge.
This permission, for a photographer, to be, quite simply. ”
“Dolores Marat, or the authorization to be” Text of Michael Serfaty, co-founder of Pangolin
Dolores Marat – Respect
May 18 – June 2, 2019
131 Corniche du Président Kennedy