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les Champs Libres, Musée de Bretagne : Mathieu Pernot : Life in photography


Until December 3, les Champs Libres, Musée de Bretagne in Rennes presents an exhibition by Mathieu Pernot entitled: La vie en photographie.

For this exhibition, Mathieu Pernot acts as a photographer and exhibition curator.
He invites us to dive into the golden age of the profession of photographer, between the end of the 19th century and the 1970s. Each image was then inscribed in the materiality of a media.
Photography had a different social and commercial use than today.
Using his own photographs, objects and images chosen from the collections of the Musée de Bretagne, Mathieu Pernot explores this history. He questions this vanished world and the lives of those who posed in front of these photographers.

“In 2014, I acquired a batch of 9x9cm color prints, showing the windows of photography studios and shops in Brittany and the west of France. This set, probably produced by the representative of the Kodak company in 1965, was valuable testimony to the presence of these businesses throughout the territory, from large cities to small villages. This set of archive images was the starting point for a photographic investigation that led me to find these same places more than 50 years later. The conclusion was clear: photography studios and workshops had disappeared, swept away by the appearance of digital technology. This photographic investigation was at the origin of the invitation from the Museum of Brittany, which asked me to examine their collection. After making images from the street, it was a question of going to see what had been done inside the studios, on the other side of the window and discovering the preserved figures of those who had been photographed there. . With more than 500,000 negatives, the Musée de Bretagne has a collection of photographs that testify to this world that has now disappeared. Aware of the need to save this endangered heritage, the Musée de Bretagne, under the impetus of its director Jean-Yves Veillard, bought in the 1970s and 80s all of certain collections of photographers who had had a professional activity in Brittany. Photography studios entered a public collection with batch of pictures of weddings, communions, and other events worthy of representation. These images constitute a valuable set that is as much a portrait of individuals as a social representation of a region in its different eras. They embody a collective memory of the places and people who lived there. If the museum had not acquired these proofs, it is very likely that they would have completely disappeared and the photographers would have remained anonymous operators who worked with no other pretension than  doing their job well and earning an honorable living. They were the workers of a History of photography which owes them a lot.”

Mathieu Pernot


Born in 1970, Mathieu Pernot is a graduate of the National School of Photography in Arles. By appropriating the codes of documentary photography, for the past twenty years he has been offering images in series, the fruit of work that resembles an investigation, as close as possible to individuals living on the fringes and places located on the periphery of society.

He is the winner of prestigious prizes: the Niépce Prize in 2014, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Prize in 2019 for his project The ruin of his home.


Mathieu Pernot : La vie en photographie
from May 13 to December 3, 2023
les Champs Libres, Musée de Bretagne
10 Cr des Alliés
35000 Rennes, France

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