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Françoise Denoyelle : Letter to my former students and to the photographers


The fair in Bièvres will not take place. The deferred editions, the deferred catalogs; introductions, books and various texts will await. The days are passing, conducive to the storage of archives. Letters, invitations, photographs. Time is stretching. An email announces the cancellation of the  Rencontres de la photographie.

A snapshot re-emerges from an overfilled box on my desk. The “fine fleur lumièriste” in front of the Gazette du Sel au Pixel. 10 daily pages of reports on the Rencontres, of large format camera film and portraits. We were in its infancy then. I turn over the photograph “Students of Louis-Lumière, rue de la Calade, Arles 1999”.

Having arrived from your school, you only know the glossy paper from the world of photography. Who to photograph, where to find them, how to locate them? The habits of some, the hotels of others, the history of the festival and the cohort of their successors, the institutionalized social meetings, the essential places, you learn quickly, are not afraid of anything, run thru the city, the exhibitions, talks and various events. You spot the headliners, play elbows, smile, display your cheeky youth, look for the right angle of view, ensuring the pace, going from excitement to the throes of the bad shot, facing the stars of the objective, the museum conservation barons and the journalistic elite.

Generations follow one another. Portraitists and portrayed turn to the carousel of years. Same feverish and jubilant quest to meet Jane Evellyn Atwood, to arrange an appointment with Martin Parr, to bring Peter Lidbergh to the ruins of the ancient theater, Lise Sarfati in a dilapidated building and Christian Caujolle to the Cryptoportiques.

1,300 portraits later, return as every year for group photography here or there in the Arles furnace. Always about fifty faithful, a little less threadlike, a little more confident.

In 2020, no reunion, no Arles photo. I hear from you when I open the newspapers. Coutagne au Monde, Charrier à Liberation, did wonders, sending photographers to all fronts. “A day at the heart of“ shea 4 ”by Tristan Reynaud. Alignments of beds in a profusion of cables, machines, screens. The infantrymen of the resuscitation harnessed with a protective panoply recovered by hard struggle or by skillful resourcefulness, stabilize the bodies to preserve the breath of life. “Confinement on the road to vacancy” by Mathias Depardon. National 7, the icon of the holidays of the Thirty Glorious years given back to the emptiness of the deserted bitumen. “Confinement let’s stay hidden” by Frédéric Stucin: the light of a morning in the world for some marauders of moments of pure freedom in the Bois de Boulogne. “Thinking after” by Antoine d’Agata, in thermophotography, led by a glowing spectrum emerging from the bowels of a liberal postmodernity. Cliches by armfuls, but so many other photographers are reduced to bottles at sea in the ocean of the virtual, so many aces of the trigger will have to give up with empty pockets, without help, the camera at half mast in the solitude of their vain efforts.

On the kitchen tables, on the edge of the beds, on the desk between the homework papers, the screens continuously spit out the daily pittance of gelled, bleached, chloroquine pixels. All photographers. The photojournalist are in a bad way. It is not enough to play the flute to be a composer. Capa already predicted the end of photography in 1939 and wanted to take Willy Ronis around the world to make films.

At the Ecole Louis-Lumière in the meanders of the versatility of training, learning, initiations to research, you had discovered your potentials: anticipated, aimed correctly and the whole cohort of qualities that befits the best and without which nothing can resists: perseverance (50-60 years of photography is long), enthusiasm, obstinacy, method, sense of rapid adaptation, assurance of being able to cope.

Jehan De Bujadoux will open the Fish Eye gallery in Arles in July and Sébastien Normand will continue his collaboration with the Réatu museum, Cyril Weiner will go on residence as an artist invited by Alexandra Fleurentin, Samuel Bollendorf is preparing his project on cross-border workers for Esch-sur-Alzette European capital of photography. At Myop Olivier Monge and Olivier Jobard embarqued Sine Die, in the collective and daily chronicle of the pandemic by the agency photographers have already moved on.

You have always known how to set sail for the best.

Visa pour l’Image, at Paris Photo.


Françoise Denoyelle


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