A long time ago, at the very beginning of the 1980s, I wanted to take nude photos with a different approach from the dominant one, that of Helmut Newton to Jean-François Jonvelle or many other lesser-known photographers, the one that fed for example almost all the covers of the Photo magazine. First of all because the way of highlighting the sensuality of the models peddled in my eyes a macho vision of women. Second, and as a corollary, because this photo was systematically restricted to the female body, denying the male body any photographic interest.
More sensitive to the approaches of the great classics of the nude like Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham or Herbert List, I wanted to show the bodies, without artifice or accessories, or sophisticated visual effect, but in their simplicity, in a natural nudity far from outrageous attitudes and poses. Without excluding sensuality, even eroticism. In that attempt, my models were first friends who were kind enough to play the game, at home in an improvised studio with makeshift lighting or on vacation with the help of the sun.
In doing so, in a climate of respect and trust, the framing has tightened on the body, ignoring the face and the gaze of the model, then approaching even closer to discover new landscapes where we end up getting lost, forgetting the body as a whole. With the different models, male and female, new attitudes, folds and veins, textures and pigments of the skin, have gradually contributed to a wide range of images in which the identity and sometimes even the gender of those who have posed, erase and disappear in total anonymity.
But how to give a global meaning to such a corpus of images, how to organize it in order to be able to show a coherent and intelligible whole?
Aline Memmi offered me to write on my photos. And, on these photographic fragments, were grafted words, sentences, fragments of texts, thus giving to the images new keys of interpretation.
These new fragments, made of images and words, were welcomed by the CiPM, Centre international de Poésie de Marseille, for a first exhibition in 1997, at the Vieille Charité, in a setting where the cozy atmosphere and ancient stone walls and columns offered our "Fragments" a beautiful setting. Since then, we have continued on this path ; by adding new images, produced with the help of new models, but also by re-exploring old images and grafting new words into them.
In 1997, many visitors regretted that a book did not accompany the exhibition. This book now exists. “Words, mostly short sentences, clung to the pictures. Like a gushing sensation, an emotion, a music. The words becoming texts question, creep into the shadows and curves, in turn compose fragments of history. And everyone, from the image, the words, or the image in the words, finds violence or appeasement, story or poetry”.
Click on the book cover to view some excerpts.
© Texts by Aline Memmi - Photos by Jean-Benoît Zimmermann