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Louis Vuitton Editions : Omar Victor Diop — Deauville


Synonymous with the art of travel since 1854, Louis Vuitton Editions continues to add titles to its “Fashion Eye” collection. Each book depicts a city, region, or country as seen through the eyes of a photographer. Omar Victor Diop’s Deauville overlays the English Channel with the scenery and memories of the Senegalese shores of the Atlantic.

Since its inception, Louis Vuitton’s “Fashion Eye” collection has been anchored in great journeys (such as the Silk Road by Kishin Shinoyama, or British Columbia by Sølve Sundsbø), reminding us of the adventurous and epic nature of travel. It also explores the fashionable and glamorous epicenters of our planet. From resorts, reviving the carnivals of the 19th century (Cecile Beaton’s Venice) to eternal summer atmospheres along the French Riviera and Amalfi coasts captured by Slim Aarons.

It seemed inevitable, if not predictable, that the collection would focus on Deauville, which, for foreign readers, remains the most accessible seaside horizon from Paris. A city of gamblers, fortune, and ruins, with long coastlines and flat beaches, cobblestone streets lined with Norman villas made of bricks and wooden balconies. A city with gray skies that, in memories, recalls the saga of “A Man and a Woman” by Claude Lelouch, or, more dear to my heart, the opening scene of “Love by the Sea” by Guy Gilles.

“It’s funny, when you come to a trendy place, you don’t realize it. We didn’t go to Deauville because it was chic, we went there as a family because it was 10 km from our home. It was the most practical. We didn’t care about snobs; we didn’t even see them. And then last year, while spending a month on vacation at my parents’ house, that’s where I met Daniel. So when I hear a song about love, it makes me think of Deauville and Daniel because he is a sailor,” announces Geneviève Thénier in her first reply.

There is undoubtedly a sweet song that reminds Omar Victor Diop of the memories of Dakar’s beaches. Perhaps it is the same melancholy that Geneviève Thénier and Omar Victor Diop share, the memory of a horizon, its scents, the music of breaking waves, currents, and the slowness of life. “In Deauville, I sometimes heard in the rustle of a trench coat the song of the breeze in my father’s starched caftan, during elegant walks on festive days along the Dakar cornice,” he seems to agree in an interview with Laura Serani, director of the Planches Contact festival.

His series “Odysseia,” shown in the current edition of the Deauville festival, giving substance to this work, plays on the nostalgia of the land, the permanent feeling of permanent exile dear to Joachim du Bellay. “Every street in the world I walk is populated by my homesickness.” The coastal landscapes of Deauville reflect for him the beaches of Dakar.

His ground-level views of Norman villas, and of grandiose buildings from the train station to the casinos, are a reminder in their method of the objective photography of Bernd & Hilla Becher. But these same views are tinged with fanciful skies with pink hues and are punctuated here and there by people in boubous, posing proudly in front of the buildings or walking. The landscape becomes a kitsch backdrop, itself transformed into a whimsical postcard.

With this series, Omar Victor Diop sought to reconcile the “useful and the futile.” Deauville is no longer a city, nor a memory, nor a world of socialites, but an unreal world where the ornamental architecture of 19th-century French seaside resorts coexists with a glossary of Senegalese characters. A kind of amused dichotomy, where the city becomes a personal set.

What emerges from Omar Victor Diop’s Deauville is an ambivalence between an unknown landscape and another that has become memory, one explored by the artist during his residency and one of the heart, deeply rooted. If the repetition of this superposition throughout the book sometimes tends to tire, and if the decor imbued with kitsch may please or displease, depending on one’s taste, his series remains a clever reversal of the imaginaries devoted to the Norman city. It depicts the personal intertwining of an identity torn between two seas, two horizons, and a whole sum of landscapes and atmospheres.

Omar Victor Diop — Deauville

Louis Vuitton Editions, “Fashion Eye” collection, 2023
As part of the Planches Contact festival
23.5 x 30.5 cm, 120 pages
Reviewed and corrected by Laura Serani
Book direction: Axelle Thomas
Editor: Anthony Vessot
Graphic design: Lords of Design
Available in good bookstores and online

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