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ImageSingulières : Gilles Favier : The world in front


If we know Gilles Favier as the artistic director of ImageSingulières, we are less familiar with his personal work. Gilles Favier is above all a photographer, humanist and political in the broad sense of the term.

ImageSingulières taking new directions, I wanted to devote the last exhibition of the year to his photographic work in order to make him better known.

Member of Agence VU’ for 30 years, faithful to the newspaper Libération, he carries out work as a documentary filmmaker which invites us to take a different look at society, to re-examine ourselves. His photographs empathetically capture slices of life that are not so foreign to us, sometimes even familiar.

Nourished by the images of Diane Arbus, Gilles Favier photographs those who, in part, built the France of today. French people who, despite the crisis, remain proud of their republican values ​​and ready to defend them, but not only that. He is more broadly interested in the men and women who belong to the working class, well beyond France.

For this retrospective, we will notably show his work on the Northern Irish conflict in Belfast, the sidelines of the filming of La Haine, his intimate vision of Valparaiso, the northern districts of Marseille, the traces of the working world in Saint-Etienne, the slave route, in the footsteps of Pierre Verger between Benin and Bahia, and his series One Star Hotel.

Gilles Favier asserts his role as documentary photographer, witness, analyst and accomplice, and affirms the need for a non-spectacular photographic form to report.

Valérie Laquittant, director of ImageSingulières


They live in Marseille, or in Benin, in Belfast, in Saint-Etienne, in Valparaiso or in the Paris suburbs and they watch us.

They, men, women or children, are people that Gilles Favier has met while working on his various projects.

If he decided to group them together it is because they were key elements of his exploration on social groups or situations which he chose to carry out his visual investigations that reveal a state of the world today. It is also because after finishing his work, he maintained friendly relationships most of the time, and he considered them a kind of family born from work.

All these people who look at us in the frontal approach that Gilles Favier likes do not know each other. And yet, beyond their own situation (unemployed in Europe, mine victims in Angola, immigrants) they exist as a coherent group. Or, more precisely, the way we look at them ensures the coherence between these very diverse faces.

The look without mannerism is first of all a look of respect, a highlighting of what is human and worthy in each of those that were fixed by the photographer, confronting his point of view with theirs for this strange exercise. of making portraits which is summed up in a face to face, in a tension, in an exchange. Because, in these apparently simple portraits there was truly an exchange.

There are photographers who like to bend their “models” to a pre-established shape. Gilles Favier, for his part, seeks to transform the inevitable clash of views to which the genre obeys into a way of sharing. A moment of unveiling where everyone will get his/her share because the respect is obvious between the two individuals. Then, and only then, is it possible that we, who do not know any of the characters who look us straight in the eye, also look at them without turning into voyeurs.

This proof of humanity is also a recognition, a way of saying thank you to those who accepted the confrontation and the risk of seeing themselves represented as they did not imagine. His approach different from often predatory photographers, is rare enough for us to thank Gilles Favier.

Christian Caujolle


Gilles Favier : Le monde en face
From September 15 to December 23, 2023
Centre photographique documentaire – ImageSingulières
17 rue Lacan
34200 Sète

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