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Mairie du 13ème : Roberto Frankenberg : The enigma and the suspended moment


The real is the material with which I work: uncertain and fluctuating.

To give an account of someone in a portrait is impossible. A person is several things at the same time.

Of our lives which are a thousand layers stacked on top of each other, photography can only catch a few fragments of a moment.

When I look at a photo, I like the mystery to grab and suck me in. So I linger and want to wander through the picture. I imagine a narration using the few clues I glean. I like that the image remains open, that it continues to develop in the mind of the onlooker.

For me, a portrait is successful when the photographer manages to put us in front of the enigma that is the subject. It invites you to imagine a story, to ask questions without necessarily finding the answers. It opens a door to three intertwined imaginaries: his own, that of the subject and that of the observer.

For my part, I look and let myself be guided by what appeals to me about someone: the way they move, how they dress, a gesture, an expression, the marks of life on their body …

With the light, the framing and our exchanges, I try to obtain a suspended moment, a kind of in-between, a breach, through which the enigma takes place. The process is uncertain: sometimes obvious – often it has to be provoked.

What remains of the truth in all of this?

Richard Avedon said: “All photos are fair, none are the truth.”

Roberto Frankenberg


3rd Biennial of Photography

“Portraits and Self-portraits”

From September 3 to 23, 2021

Mairie du 13ème, Salle des fêtes

1 place d’Italie, 75013 Paris


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