Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Homage a l'Errance de Depardon
These days I am reading in bursts the wonderfully enchanting book of Frenchman Raymond Depardon titled Errance. The Magnum photographer has published several books mostly with what I call intensely structured black and white images. They call him Anti-Salgado often and I understand why. I had the usual respect and utmost deference for his work but he was never really my favourite Magnum man until I have seen his book on French (mostly) politics published last year. I was so astonished by the frank, powerful, subtle but not pretentious approach he uses that immediately I started to give more attention to what he wrote! I have yet to see his films so I wanted to know more while avoiding my instinctive avoidance of thesis prone landscape or human scape photography he seams to prefer. Reading and watching more purposefully his images I decided he is by no means an Anti-Salgado. He is screaming as loud. He is not neutral, he is not indifferent, he is precise but he is certainly not clinical in the sense of unemotional. He is more discreet. I do not agree with a lot of the stuff he writes and I often find him utterly inconsistent. He is perfectly capable to say two quite opposite things within the space of three paragraphs. Regardless, his little book published in 2000 under the title "Erance" is a photographic masterpiece. The images, his choice of material and content and the writing are the work of a master. He gives simple clear straightforward arguments to the idea of errance, of wanderlust, of solipsistic but unselfish walkaround. Its is not a diary and neither is a pretentious essay on modern society and the need/curse of contemporary solitude. There is a lot about it in the book. But there is all the sadness and its contradictory content-ness that comes with being alone. It is so powerfully honest and hartchurningly relevant that I made this little gem a favourite read. I must say that he lives no stone unturned. Family, traditions, rural life, Europe, Africa, Americas, man and woman, relationships, failure all get together seamlessly by the means of a narrative that uses "empty" spaces, desolate urban or sub-urban passage, roads, lanes, tracks, lines, ultimately all are the same: ways, connections, passages, links. Read it and tell me what you think. Here is a picture that is my homage to his book. It is part of my errance cotidiene, my endless sometimes aimless sometimes hopeful daily ritual of coming and going. But then again Depardon would probably say that errance cannot be cotidiene it has to be purposeful while unintentional in its direction. Some places are to be avoided because they intrerupt, others because they mean to much.