Méditerranée is a travelogue, a journal of memories told with tender nostalgia. Raymond Depardon loves the sea as much as he loves the farmlands of his childhood and the sweeping, ocre deserts of Africa on the other side of the peaceful Mediterranean. He shares this love with his wife, Claudine Nougaret. “In Chad, he introduced me to the lunar landscapes of Tibesti, living in the desert, and then, leaving behind our six-wheel truck in Mauritania, La Paz and Los Angeles, we walked against the current of the city. In Hawaii, strolling along a beach. In Harare, listening to the hummingbirds on the hotel terrace. In Dalat, meeting a mad architect… So many sweet moments.”
In 1984, Depardon visited Alexandria, a lover’s refuge, lost when he returned twenty years later. From Beirut to Naples, he explores the Mediterranean ports, with their welcoming chairs: wobbly, wooden, wicker, leatherette, canvas, colorful like the local fruit and bathing suits, reflecting the glint of the sea, a light that will, Depardon believes, soften the frame of any photographer. He lets himself drift this way and that, along the terraces and white-hot sands, capturing the infectious lightness of the mistral and relishing the spectacle of the sea from morning to night, when it empties of swimmers to make way for the heavens. The beach, where, “children make up stories,” where the old look on at the pretty girls drunk with love, where dreamers watch the boats setting sail and fishermen perch on the rocks to cast their lines. Every day the Mediterranean offers a new tableau, as unfailingly as its misty horizons mix with the green and blue despite the tragedies unfolding on its shores. Come what may, the sea will continue its dance.
Photographs by Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret
Editions Xavier Barral
Un Moment si doux by Raymond Depardon
Through March 2nd 2015
Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée
1, esplanade du J4