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Thierry Maindrault’s Monthly Chronicle

Whether their name is Aesop, de La Fontaine, Perrault or Orwell, literary creators have often taken malicious pleasure in identifying us, with our vices and our virtues, to the animal family. The fox is cunning, the ant remains a bit stingy, the heron appears dismissive and the cat – even when running with long strides – displays its independence and subtlety. Today, I’m going to tell you about the badger. This animal is essentially characterized by its naivety and its gift, despite its hair which has become less sought after, to be plucked like a fowl.

How did the photographer who was originally creative and astute become successively attentive and hard-working; then, intrepid and passionate; and again, installed in the high up spheres of the academy; to finally end up in the sympathetic but pitiful skin of our badger? In French slang, this poor badger is truly and irretrievably the “simpleton” of our Canadian cousins.

As with any deception, for there to be a deceived victim, we need an unscrupulous profiteer. For many people who consider themselves photographers, the mechanism has been put in place in a methodical and multiplied way over the past ten years. It should be noted, in passing, that the unexpected arrival of the small disruptive virus only improved the evolution of the system with the possibility of dematerializing it. Let’s get back to our badgers, the clever little guys understood fairly quickly that photographic production increased quantitatively very quickly as the quality of the artworks produced fell in the same proportion. It became obvious that these new genius authors would need supports to spread out the contents of their box (actually hard disks). The picture rails of the galleries – having shopfront – and those of the municipal halls finding themselves quite quickly saturated. The image hunter of the building, of the neighbourhood or of the village found himself in despair at not being able to show “his masterpieces” to the admiring crowds.

Pa ni p’oblem man, as our Creole friends repeat. Everything is good for the cunning fox to catch money easily. The acquisition or rental of an empty shop (if possible downtown), an old disused industrial shed, an old dry swimming pool, a pretty hunting lodge, a pool house (for golf, horse riding or tennis), all fitted out very summarily (cracks, mould, tears remain beautiful scenographic complements made available at no extra charge). The trap is ready. A little tour on the internet to find a prey… and then… Then the scenario is well run and perfectly oiled. A little e-mail, raving about your photographic works which are those of a great unknown artist. We offer you to exhibit in a magical place, you prepare some prints that you must send with a substantial check (just to cover costs they say). A small financial supplement if you want an opening, another to make a catalogue as it should be for such an exhibition, and last, icing on the cake, a small extension is essential for a finishing apotheosis. Among these short-term real estate owners who declare themselves Gallery Directors and take on easily the title of curator, there is also and often a publisher of art books. Even if it means plucking our novice badger, we must not forget anything, because that would be too stupid. The making of a magnificent book invites itself into the program, while the wallet of our brilliant photographer flattens. A discreet print run of a few copies – for close family – eats the latest savings. It is not only the singer who already saw himself at the top…

Yes ! I have some good friends who exhibit at the Venice Biennale, without really knowing what this Biennale is and without going to Venice. Others send their prints to a chic district of Paris without even checking the reality of the gallery. Expeditions to New York are enough for their delight without knowing that their work is hanging for a short week in a cellar at the end of a cul-de-sac; an exceptional exhibition  for a few thousand dollars. Nothing frightens the badger who, after Paris, Basel, London, Barcelona, ​​Rome, is about to reach Tokyo, Seoul or Shanghai. To hell with greed, their list of exhibits on their website is so much more important than their own pictures. It is still true that often the listings look much better than the works shown on the site.

Art dealers in time-sharing and pseudo-books sellers have supplanted merchants of sleep. It should be noted that this seems much more lucrative and without risks. As long as there are would be photographers who want to play the big-headed badgers, there will be a few crafty foxes out to get rich.

The ideas and the creations of veterans are gradually disappearing and that is good, the procedures must evolve; but, is it really necessary to be clipped like a pigeon? An objective reflection is essential on your own research and your work, the doubt must be reasonable before any investment. You should never pay to have your photographs selected, which sometimes really deserve better. Manage your negotiations, your hangings, your scenographies yourself (even if you seek the help of a competent professional to assist you).

In summary, do the exact opposite of what we see this year at the 2022 professional week, in Arles!

Thierry Maindrault

July 08, 2022

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