For the 14th edition of the Planches Contact festival, Australian photographer Max Pam (b. 1949) spent six weeks in residence in Deauville, the starting point for a dreamlike stroll through the Côte Fleurie region.
Presented at the Franciscaines, the result of this project takes the form of an immersive exhibition of seventy diptychs, in dialogue with a retrospective of his work from the 1970s to the late 1990s.
On arriving in Deauville, Max Pam was immediately reminded of his Australian youth, with its skies and marine atmosphere. From the outset, he established a very precise methodology for appropriating the “fertile playground for creation” that he saw as the Normandy region. He developed a narrative through the binarity of the diptych, built on a dialogue between past and present and the idea of time travel. In these images, we find a number of references to works from the André Malraux Museum in Le Havre, to which contemporary snapshots respond.
Max Pam’s diptychs are all born of a dream. Staying at Villa Namouna, Pam tells us that he dreamed a lot. These nocturnal journeys were recorded in notebooks upon awakening, before being transcribed into painted or photographed images. The result is a poetic farandole of formal and narrative associations which, assembled in an immense frieze, form a captivating hollow self-portrait of the man he was during this short stay.
Further on, a room offers a glimpse of the richness of his late twentieth-century productions, as he likes to describe them. Here we recognize the travel-loving Max Pam, who tirelessly surveyed the world: India, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Australia. His love of maps, with which he has had a special relationship since childhood, is also evident. Maps representing a part of the world that he makes his own by surrounding them with clichés and text. The map of Deauville and Trouville, created especially for the residency, is surrounded by stamps depicting marine scenes and populations.
On the walls of this retrospective, the associations of captured or found images, the love of words and the need to create a narrative through arrangements or collages shed further light on his highly personal approach to photography.