In Arles, Flair Galerie, specialized in animals, is dedicating an exhibition to Sylvie Huet’s photographs of stuffed animals. It is a tender journey into childhood.
I could not have imagined, rediscovering my childhood bear at forty-nine in a flea market, the enthusiasm triggered by this reunion. How so many adults, here and elsewhere, have always kept their bears as life long friends , how some have inspired celebrities (Jean Paul Gaultier, Jane Goodall…), I had no clue either. It was by telling my story a hundred times that I realized. Under the cover of photography, the bear became a Petite Madeleine. Childhood archives were unpacked from their boxes, and I became immersed in family secrets.
The teddy bear, something watching over us, is like a photographic archive. He is the memory of someone or something. He reassures us by his presence at hand and allows for relapses into the past. Vernacular photographs that are swarming with clues to “what was” are the same as wounded, patched bears whose stitching reminds us of a moment in childhood or raises a question.
Photographing the bear is a little like talking to an ancestor. We search for photos where we are posing with him, we call a mother or a brother to whom we have not spoken in a long time. “When was this?” “That takes me back!” “Do you remember?” He was always there, but often silent. By making him pose for a long time in front of my precious Hasselblad, looking for his most revealing gaze, I turned him into a real archetype. His “official portrait” hanging on the wall gives him a second life, equal to everyone else in the family. Even closer, more present.
Sylvie Huet, from a literary background, is alternately a journalist for the photo press, a publishing proofreader, and a French foreign language teacher. She has been dedicated to journalism and photography since 1996.
Sylvie Huet, Official Portraits
From December 2, 2017 through January 6, 2018
11 Rue de la Calade