Tag Archives: French Photographer

Fernando Moleres and the Empathic Eye

Rampant overcrowding plagues prisons across the globe, even in the world’s most developed nations. In Sierra Leone, one of Africa’s poorest countries, and one struggling to emerge from a decade of civil war, prisons are cauldrons of violence and neglect, where death and disease stalk inmates at every turn. In the nation’s capital of Freetown, the crumbling Freetown Central Prison was built to hold 220 adult inmates but houses 1,300, including dozens of children as young as 14 years old.

In 2010, Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres traveled to Sierra Leone determined to document what he describes as “disastrous” conditions at the penitentiary. Inspiration for the trip, he says, came after viewing the work of French photographer Lizzie Sadin, who has spent time capturing prison conditions around the world. The result of Moleres’ work could not have been more fruitful in a purely professional sense. He has won several international prizes for his work at the notorious Freetown Central Prison, better known as Pademba Road, including a 2012 Lucie Award and a 2011 award from World Press Photo. His series, additionally, has been published by some of Europe’s most prestigious publications.

Yet Moleres refuses to call his work a success. He remains haunted by something his photos were not able to convey — the uncertainty that reigns at the penitentiary. Dozens of boys, Moleres explains, have spent up to six years in prison without knowing anything about their judicial case. Many boys, abandoned by their families and with no support to speak of, believe they will die incarcerated.

“It’s very difficult to reflect this neglect through photography,” Moleres tells TIME. “In Sierra Leone, a prisoner is nobody, and a young prisoner is nothing.”

Faced with this disregard, and frustrated by photography’s constraints, Moleres resorted to his previous profession as a nurse, which he practiced as a youth in his native Orduña, in northern Spain’s Basque Country. During his first visit to the prison on Pademba Road, Molores snuck in with medicine to help prisoners where photos could not. And Moleres insists that the images of acute neglect — dehydration and scabies plague most inmates — cast a constant cloud over the professional accolade he has received.

“Photography has its limits,” says Moleres, who worked as a nurse in Spain before turning to photography. “I’m very happy with the project, it has received a lot of attention, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. Nobody has moved a finger to help these boys.”

Until recently, that is. Moleres returned from another excursion to Freetown just last month, where, with the help of the NGO Free Minor Africa, he gave birth to an organization that will help boys navigate through Sierra Leone’s penal and judicial systems. When fully up-and-running, Moleres hopes to help up to 20 boys, whether they need legal assistance or help with rehabilitation once they are freed from prison. Moleres will also provide them with the option of returning to school or retraining so they may enter the workforce.

Moleres, nonetheless, has no intention of abandoning his photography. He’s currently working on a book that will capture the boys of Pademba Road at various stages of their prison experience, from incarceration to rehabilitation to life on the street.

“If you don’t do anything to follow it up, photography is not worth much,” says Moleres. “We become very conscious of everything but there is little action. I’m more interested in dedicating myself to photographic projects in which action follows close behind.”


Fernando Moleres is a Barcelona-based photographer. He was awarded second prize in the Daily Life category of the 2011 World Press Photo competition for his work in Sierra Leone.

Alfonso Serrano is a senior editor at TIME.com.

 


Pascal Fellonneau

One last post about elections for 2012 and thought I would end with a humorous take on campaign posters. From March to June 2012, French photographer Pascal Fellonneau has been regularly wandering the streets of Paris capturing posters of French presidential elections. The reality of what happens to these symbols of achievement and power can’t help but make one laugh. He has a new book, Candidates, published through Bolo Paper.

Pascal was born in Bordeaux and now lives in Paris. His photographs question how we inhabit the urban environment and depicts strange yet familiar landscapes often
devoid of humanity.
After living in Iceland for a few years, he was beneficiary of a grant from French ministry of Culture in
2005, and began exhibiting in several countries across Europe (France, Greece, Germany, Sweden).

His press and corporate assignments include clients like Wallpaper City Guides, Elle, Libération,
Telerama, The Guardian, and many others. Some of his selected exhibitions include NORD[S] Regards Croisés within the context of Transphotographiques festival in Lille, France 2011, Cold Cold Ground (within the context of Fotografi i Fokus, The South Sweden Photography
Biennial) Final Galleri, Malmö, Sweden 2011,
Brave New World, Athens Photo Festival / Hellenic Center for Photography. Greece 2009-
2010
The Farm, Museum of Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France 2008
Island.

images from Candidates

TIME Style&Design: Peter Hapak Photographs Marion Cotillard

To prepare for his cover sitting with Marion Cotillard for TIME Style&Design’s fall issue, photographer Peter Hapak hit the archives, collecting pictures of Paris and Parisian fashion during the 1930s, including the work of famed French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue. Studying images of women in restaurants, chatting with friends or simply roaming the streets of the city, Hapak easily understood why Paris has long been considered a fashion capital of the world. “All of the women looked like they had walked out of a fashion magazine,” he says. “Fashion is such a big part of the culture there, and you can even feel that history when walking through the city today.”

Peter Hapak for TIME

TIME Style&Design Fall 2012

On set in Paris this August, Hapak tried to evoke this era, capturing Cotillard in designs by French fashion houses Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, along with other designers like Andrew Gn and Dries Van Noten. “She’s the representation of the French woman for me—elegant, but not too stylized,” says Hapak of Cotillard, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2007 for her portrayal of French singer Édith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. “With the cover look, it felt like she was pulling a dress out of her own closet. It went so well with her style, and she felt really confident in it, that you would have never known she was dressing up for a shoot.”

Peter Hapak is a contract photographer for TIME. In December of 2011, Hapak photographed The Protester, TIME’s Person of the Year. 

More: See all of TIME’s Style&Design coverage

Stephanie de Rouge

Some photographers are natural observers, and some take that curiosity to another level and want to open a few drawers and dig a little deeper.  French photographer, Stephanie de Rouge, is one of those visual investigators, probing into the pysche of how we humans function, especially in big city life.  Stephanie has traversed a number of approaches to looking at our lives–shooting New Yorkers in their bedrooms or on their rooftops, and with the work featured below, In Your Fridge, shooting what her subjects eat, or at least have in their refrigerators.

After 30 years in Paris, Stephanie now makes her home in New York, teaching at the International Center for Photography, works as a contributor for Le Journal de La Photographie and the New York Times, and is a freelance portrait photographer.  Her work has been featured in many publications and she has exhibited widely, with two recent exhibitions in Paris.


Through my travels, I have developed a fascination for big cities and their devastating energy.  Since I live and work in New York, I am more than ever wondering how humans survive those tentacular – always exciting – and often hostile urban spaces.  How they preserve their singularity and intimacy, where they find the soft, he poetic, the soothing, where they hide their secrets.

 Brookkyn, NY, Famille Englund

I started the project by shooting portraits of New Yorkers in their bedrooms (In Your Room) thinking it could be a good place for intimacy.  I was wrong. Or not exactly right.  The building walls don’t talk.  New Yorkers move all the time, share/sublet bedrooms…Not a good setting for a long term relationship with one self.

 Brooklyn, NY, Andrew et Framton

Quickly, my subjects whispered a few words about a place dear to their hearts: rooftops.  An outdoor space for intimacy? Why not…Let’s see…I discovered more than 40 of these urban shelters between earth and sky (On Your Roof), and as fascinated not by the amazing light, not by the phenomenal views, but by the real people I met up there and the very touching stories they shared with me.

 Brooklyn, NY, Fred

Then I got thirsty…Can I grab a juice in the fridge?

 New York, NY, John

Hmmm….what’s with the Barbie doll behind the salad? From Paris to New York, I opened more than 45 fridges and discovered quite amazing worlds.  Much more elaborate and revealing than I had expected in the first place.  But I knew I was at a milestone in my quest of intimacy on big cities when people actually started refusing to show their fridges.  As if something too personal was stacked between the cheddar cheese and the mayonnaise.  So…show me (what you eat) your refrigerator, I’ll tell you who you are? Maybe. Maybe no.

 New York, NY, colocataries

 New York, NY, Charmaine et Marc

 Paris, Aurore

 Paris, Famille Doucet

 Paris, Famille Reytier

 Paris, Famille Rouge

 Paris, Marie

 Paris, Monique

 Paris, Pierre

 Paris, Thierry

 Queens, NY, Famille Hamad

Rye, NY, Famille Fillion

New York, Cocteau and a Parabolic Mirror: ‘Berenice Abbott: Photographs’

Though she went to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, Berenice Abbott would transition to photography when she became Man Ray’s assistant in 1923. Three years later, she set up her own studio, photographing the French capital’s bohemians, artists and intellectuals—and famous friends such as writers James Joyce and Jean Cocteau—before moving back to the States in 1929.

For the next two decades, Abbott focused her lens on Depression-Era New York, producing a number of moving, black-and-white images that would become part of her book Changing New York. This series, along with nearly 120 other images, is being featured in a new exhibition at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Center called Berenice Abbott: Photographs.

“She was an underestimated photographer during her life and even today,” says Gaelle Morel, the exhibition’s curator and author of the accompanying book, Berenice Abbott. “But Berenice has this capacity of mixing different aesthetics, depending on the subject, which was really extraordinary. She can do a more modern, New Vision style when it came to photographing New York buildings, or take a more documentary approach for her portraits.”

Keystone-France / Getty Images

Berenice Abbot standing for a portrait, behind a view-camera, circa early 1900s

Abbott gained acclaim for her own comprehensive career, which would later involve photographic work on physics, commissioned by Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she also became famous for her staunch support of French photographer Eugène Atget, whom she met in 1925 while living in Paris. Atget died two years later, and it was Abbott who would photo-edit a book of his work and help stage an exhibition of his work in New York. She sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.

“Berenice always said she had two careers—one of her own, and one championing Atget,” Morel says. “She wanted to be recognized as the Atget of New York, not necessarily his aesthetic, but his intellect.”

Berenice Abbott: Photographs, co-organized by The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, is on view through Aug. 19 at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying book is published by Editions Hazan and Yale University Press.

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

While still in Lima, I was browsing an old issue from a defunct French photography magazine that focuses on photography collectives. I discovered this project, Cura Loca which is a collaboration between French photographer Stephane Moiroux and Peruvian Amazonian painter Paolo Del Aguila Sajami.

It depicts people undergoing treatments for various ailments (physical, mental, spiritual) by local shamans in the Peruvian Amazon (mostly around the city of Pucallpa) and often using psychoactive plants such as ayahuasca.

Del Aguila paints over Moiroux’s photographs with fascinating results.

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

These photos try to accomplish the impossible; depict the mental state of someone undergoing these traditional treatments. Still, the results are surprising and a true collaboration. These photos without the painting would be totally different. Also Del Aguila’s paintings only vaguely resemble his contributions to these photographs. Here’s a sample of one of his paintings:

Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Moiroux doesn’t have a personal website but this page has several galleries of his work, including Cura Loca. You can see this series on La Lettre de la Photographie.

Thibault Brunet: First Person Shooter

(c) Thibault Brunet

Exhibition on view:
April 19 – May 19, 2012

4RT Contemporary
Chaussée de Waterloo, 1038
1180 Brussels

French photographer Thibault Brunet takes a photojournalist’s approach to his seemingly studio-lit portraits of soldiers, following troops through their daily missions passing through war zones and rubble waiting for those moments when “something seems to go wrong and a state of disorder sets in.” These photographs from the series First Person Shooter, along with some work from his latest series Paris: In the Aftermath of War, will be on view as part of his solo show at 4RT Contemporary in Brussels (through May 19, 2012).

“An undefined gaze or the glassy eye of a soldier; the disorientation at a Paris Métro station,” the gallery writes in their press release, “clearly familiar to us but now emptied of its usual crowds and devastated by an unknown conflict: these visuals challenge the spectator and require another look, a second reading.”

His work was profiled by Time‘s LightBox last year, which also explored his use of video game screenshots in the series, accompanied by a gallery of images from the show now in Brussels.

Brunet was also selected as runner up for Aperture’s 2011 Portfolio Prize for his work in First Person Shooter. More information on the 2012 Portfolio Prize call for entries will be available soon, but only Aperture magazine subscribers are qualified for entry, so have a look at some of work of the past recipients and runners up, and sign up today.

Faded Tulips: Kyrgyzstan’s Counterfeit Revolution

Among the ‘stans of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is something of an outlier. Remote and mountainous, the tiny republic is home to the region’s only parliamentary democracy and a vibrant civil society. Not once, but twice, its people have taken to the streets to force out their rulers—a considerable exception in a part of the world dominated by iron-fisted, post-Soviet apparatchiks.

Yet Kyrgyzstan is also a microcosm of Central Asia as a whole. A significant proportion of its impoverished population ekes out a living as migrant labor abroad. The rusted traces of a Soviet past line its cities and towns, while Moscow’s long history of gerrymandering borders and resettling whole communities gives it a complex, volatile ethnic make-up. Tensions between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of the country flared in 2010 and riots led to as many as 2,000 deaths. Its legacy still smolders.

Over the span of some four years, French photographer William Daniels chronicled Kyrgyzstan’s tumultuous progress. His work, entitled Faded Tulips, documents the false dawn of democracy: in 2005, the country’s quasi-authoritarian regime was toppled in an uprising hailed the “Tulip revolution.” But the man drafted in to oversee democracy’s blooming across the Central Asian steppe—President Kurmanbek Bakiyev—proved to be cut from the same cloth as petty despots elsewhere in the region.

Allegations of corruption mounted as well as reports of voter fraud and intimidation of dissidents and the media. In 2007, Daniels arrived in a Kyrgyzstan where the illusion of democratic change was beginning to slip. He was on hand in 2010 when protests broke out against the Bakiyev regime, eventually forcing the putative strongman to flee into exile in Russia. Months later, as an interim government tried to right Kyrgyzstan’s listing ship, ethnic riots between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the country’s south led to hundreds of deaths and a geo-political crisis. Neighboring countries closed their borders, while up to 400,000 people—mostly Uzbeks—fled their homes. Daniels’ pictures of charred, gutted neighborhoods in the southern city of Osh—an ancient Silk Road town that’s long been a rich crossroads of peoples and faiths—bear stark testament to how lifelong neighbors can wake up one day as enemies. “I particularly tried to understand how this small country could descend so quickly into extreme violence,” Daniels says.

But while much has yet to be reconciled following that spasm of violence, there are real glimmers of hope in Kyrgyzstan. The country’s seemingly successful transition into a multi-party parliamentary system has weaned it off the grip of a domineering executive—the main impediment for real political change elsewhere in Central Asia. But the country’s economy is still in desperate shape, and new President Almazbek Atambayev, who has so far engendered cautious optimism among most analysts, has to steer Kyrgyzstan through a maze of competing American, Russian and Chinese interests. “We will see how and where Atambayev will lead the country,” says Daniels. His photos, though, show a Kyrgyzstan as haunted by the past as it is uncertain for its future.

William Daniels is a photographer based in Paris. See more of his work here. He is currently engaged in a crowdfunding effort to publish Faded Tulips as a book; the drive is still ongoing, but the funding goal was reached while Daniels was reporting for TIME in Syria. Read about his harrowing escape from that situation here on LightBox.