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The Book Column : Marine Peixoto : Bercy Street Workout


For three years, Marine Peixoto photographed the sports sessions at the municipal street workout area in Bercy Park, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. She created an exhibition presented at the BAL in Paris, as well as a book co-published with Roma Publications.

What if photography were a sport? When Medhy, the creator of Bercy Street Workout, invited her to immortalize this park and its members, French photographer Marine Peixoto decided to approach this project like sport training.

“I did the work like a pushing exercice at Bercy. Like those who come to train, my relationship with the terrain is daily practice, and photography is my participation to the collective effort.” Regularity, endurance, repeated attempts until success or failure: like these young men endlessly repeating the same movements to achieve an almost-sculptural body, the photographer imposed a rhythm on herself. From Sunday to Sunday, she came to practice. The gestures she repeated served her to sculpt her photographic material, until exhaustion, she says.

Exhaustion is both physical and visual. Marine Peixoto photographed the Bercy Street Workout for three years. How, then, could she renew her gaze on this place? How did she avoid repetition or saturation, like this uniform series of close-ups of well-defined abdominals, in the center of the book. Her approach, which she describes as endless, touched on an absurd obstinacy that, once again, is not without recalling the efforts these young men impose on their bodies.

We could continue the extended metaphor, but also reverse it, because these athletes themselves maintain a certain relationship with the image. The session is not done without a smartphone to film exploits, show off abs, play with biceps in front of the camera. When Marine Peixoto enters their space with a camera, they are not disturbed at all, it is already part of their daily life. They all have a sense of staging.

As for the book, it transforms this moment of effort—but also of fraternity—into a poetic vision. Portraits and sports choreographies taken on the spot are mixed with details of the surrounding landscape. Marine Peixoto uses the geometry of sport equipment, metal bars, dumbbells, ropes, and elastics, to compose quasi-abstract paintings. All in black and white sublimated by the quality of the prints, which the photographer made herself, her own “physical feat” in her own words.

For Bercy Street Workout, Marine Peixoto drew many threads: long-term documentary work, concept-driven approach pushed to excess, artistic approach with great poetry… A superb photographic marathon.


Marine PeixotoBercy Street Workout. Photographies 2020-2023
Copublished by LE BAL et Roma Publications
88 pages, Format: 23 x 28 cm
29 €
Available in all good bookstores and online

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