Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderfull? Isn’t she precious?

passport photograph, private collection, UK.
passport photograph, private collection, UK.
© Claude Cahun
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1920.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1920.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1919.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1919.
© Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1938.
© Claude Cahun, Untitled, 1938.
© Claude Cahun
© Claude Cahun
© Claude Cahun
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait with Masks on Cloak, 1928.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait in flowers, 1939.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait in flowers, 1939.
© Claude Cahun, Que me veux-te?, 1928.
© Claude Cahun, Que me veux-te?, 1928.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1914.
© Claude Cahun, Self-portrait, 1914.

excerpt from CLAUDE CAHUN: The Extreme Point of the Needle in: Michael Löwy’s MORNING STAR: surrealism, marxism, anarchism, situationism, utopia

During 1936, Claude Cahun took an active part in Surrealist activities: she was present at the Surrealist exhibitions in Paris and London and signed the collective appeal “No Freedom for the Enemies of Freedom” (written by Henri Pastoureau and Leo Malet), which denounced the Fascist coup in Spain and the passive atti-tude of the French Popular Front government. However, in July 1937 she and her companion, Suzanne Malherbe, decided to leave Paris and live on the Channel Island of Jersey. She did not sever her connections with the Surrealist group, and in 1938 she joined the International Federation for an Independent Revolutionary Art (FIARI). In June 1939 she signed the last declaration of the
FIARI, “A bas les lettres de cachet! A bas la terreur grise!,” which was also the last collective manifestation of the Surrealists before the war and the dispersal of the group. In 1940, with the beginning of World War II and the occupation of the Channel Islands by the Th ird Reich, a new chapter in Claude Cahun’s political and intellectual life began, perhaps the most astonishing and impressive of all: anti-Fascist Resistance.

When the German troops arrived, Cahun’s first impulse was to shoot the Kommandant; she took a small revolver and went to the woods to do target practice. However, she was too inexperienced, and Suzanne convinced her that she would miss her target. They decided to start a subversive activity addressed to German soldiers to incite them to insubordination.

From 1941 to 1944, for four years, they issued, mainly in German (Suzanne translated), thousands of anti-Fascist leaflets, posters, and fliers aimed at sowing trouble and demoralization among the occupiers. Claude Cahun also produced photomontages using images cut from the Nazi magazine Signal and sometimes took her inspiration from John Hartzfeld’s well-known anti-Fascist works, which had been exhibited in Paris in 1935. Humor, play, allegory, nostalgia, absurdity, the marvelous, and irony were their main weapons in this unequal struggle against the most powerful war machine of Europe.

Their fliers contained anti-Nazi and antimilitarist slogans, such as “Liebknecht-Frieden-Freiheit,” uncensored information, songs, manifestoes, theatrical dialogues, images, and wordplay and were usually signed the “Nameless Soldier.” One of their fliers, which enraged the occupying authorities, directly called on the soldiers to rebel and to desert and advised them that if their officers at-tempted to stop them, to shoot their officers. Some of the material was handwritten on cardboard cigarette paper wrappers. They also wrote “Down with War” on French money. Usually, however, Cahun made twelve carbon copies of each fl ier with her Underwood typewriter and illustrated them with images made of typewriter letters and graphic signs. Th en they attached the fliers to walls, doors, barbed wire, and parked cars or hid them inside newspapers and magazines on the newsstands or left them in mailboxes, churches, and houses used by the Nazis.

Their daring behavior, right under the noses of the Gestapo and the occupying forces, can best be described by the Yiddish word chutzpa, insolence. Summarizing the spirit of her struggle, she wrote after the war, “I committed myself to revolutionary defeatism, trying to convince the German soldiers to turn against their officers. We fought for a rainbow of values stretching from the ultraromantic black to the flaming red. We fought for the Germans against Nazi Germany. We fought as Surrealist writers with weapons of chance.”

And in a letter from 1950 she explains that what stimulated her to resist was her leftist, pacifist, Surrealist, and even “Communist (historical materialism)” ideas as well as the need to defend particular values, “such as freedom of expression and sexual freedom [liberté des moeurs] that were of personal concern to me.” During those four years the angry, frustrated Gestapo agents searched in vain for the dangerous “Nameless Soldier,” who sabotaged the morale of the troops and preached rebellion in every corner of the small island.

Finally, someone, probably the shopkeeper who sold them the cigarette papers, denounced the two women, and on July 25, 1944, they were arrested. Trying to save her friend, Claude Cahun told the Gestapo officers, “I’m the only one responsible. I did the photomontages and wrote the fliers. Moreover, I’m Jewish on my father’s side.” As soon as they were jailed, both women tried to commit suicide by swallowing Gardenal pills they kept with them for just such an eventuality. Th e attempt failed, but they were seriously ill for some time, and this probably saved them from being deported to Germany.

At fi rst, the Nazi secret police could not believe these two kind, middle-aged ladies were the fi rebrands responsible for all the subversive agitation and thought they were agents of some “foreign” power. When they at last became convinced, after searching their house and finding all the materials, they convened a military court. The German prosecutor, Major Sarmser, argued that they were illegal partisan fighters, using spiritual weapons that were more dangerous than guns. He also insisted that their flier calling on the German soldiers to rid themselves of their officers was “incitement to murder.”

The military court predictably sentenced them both to death. The two women were to be sent to Germany to be beheaded with an axe, the Third Reich’s treatment for dangerous anti-Fascist enemies whose death they intended to serve as an example. However, due to the liberation of France in the summer of 1944 the Channel Islands were cut off from Germany, and the deportation could not take place.

Seeing that the war was lost, the local commanders were afraid of reprisals and did not want to take the responsibility for an odious execution on the island itself. They told the two women that if they wrote to the German authorities asking to be pardoned, they could save their heads, thanks to the merciful policy of the Third Reich. To their dismay and surprise, Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe obstinately refused to sign an appeal for pardon: they considered it dishonorable to ask favors of the Third Reich! The embarrassed local commanders were then forced to sign the appeal themselves, and the two proud anti-Fascist resisters were “pardoned” and sentenced to life imprisonment. During their time in the military prison they discovered that many German soldiers were jailed for trying to desert or for insubordination, a situation they attributed, at least in part, to their antiwar propaganda. Finally, on the last day of the war, May 8, 1945, they were liberated, in poor health but alive.

≡ The Hyères School of Photography ≡

My love for the Hyères Festival is known. I’ve written about it and have featured a great deal of the authors shortlisted each year. The judging panel has been responsible for issuing a statement about what they want to see in contemporary photography and it has been bold and exciting, for Hyères always awards an experimental attitude towards the medium itself, as well as valuing innovation and creativity. Amidst the past festival judges “we can randomly mention Urs Stahel (Fotomuseum Winterthur), Marloes Krijnen (FOAM, Amsterdam), Dennis Freedman (W, New York), Charlotte Cotton, Glenn O’Brien, Marta Gili (Jeu de Paume, Paris), Jörg Koch (032C, Berlin), James Reid (Wallpaper*, London), Frits Gierstberg (Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam), Kathy Ryan (New York Times, New York), David Campany (London), Joerg Colberg (Conscientious), Charles Fréger (photographer, France), Erik Kessels (KesselsKramer, Amsterdam), Brett Rogers (The Photographer’s Gallery, London), Karen Langley (Dazed, London), Winfried Heininger (Kodoji Press, Switzerland), Damien Poulain (Oodee, London), Jason Evans (photographer, United Kingdom), Mutsuko Ota (IMA, Tokyo), etc.

What follows is my selection of work from the 10 authors shortlisted for Hyères 2015.

I – Oezden Yorulmaz

5© Oezden Yorulmaz, Untitled, from the series Ed Meets Jack, 2013.

6© Oezden Yorulmaz, Untitled, from the series Ed Meets Jack, 2013.

excerpt from Hyères’ press release:

Oezden Yorulmaz is interested in how photographical images play an important aspect of self-definition within the western society he cohabits. He plays in his work with the borders and the limitations of photography’s try to represent reality. He often uses himself as the main protagonist and creates male performs that is acting a narrative or mental state within the space of images or locations.
In Ed Meets Jack he created a fictional story, told through a series of photographs, which resemble a sequence of film stills. By using props or costumes he is trying to create a persona or situation that is aiming to reproduce an authentic atmosphere that only exists within in the space of the image. The photograph acts as a springboard between his performance and the observer and is limited to each one own presumption and experience.

II – Filippo Patrese

patrese_filippo-3© Filippo Patrese, Settembre 1977, from the series Corrections, 2014.

patrese_filippo-1© Filippo Patrese, Febbraio 1983, from the series Corrections, 2014.

III – Thomas Rousset

hyeres_01_news© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

1074720© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

1074713© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

IV – Jeannie Abert

1jeannieabert-champ-de-bataille© Jeannie Abert, RÉVOLUTIONS, 2011. Collages sur papier.

c2_624© Jeannie Abert, COVER. Collages sur papier, incrustations diverses et brou de noix.

4-x_800© Jeannie Abert, COMPILE POUR UN AMNESIQUE, 2015 (en cours).

Jeannie’s statement:

I take photography as my starting point as a database of experimental research which I see as a raw material that I then manipulate. I search in pre-existing iconographic banks and appropriate the images. Thumbing my nose at the screen, a paradigm of the contemporary view, I question the images by bringing them back to a materialstate. There are so many axes and interpenetrations which define a genetically hybrid operation – contact photography, scanned, printed, photocopied images, reproduced so much so as to lose their definition – material – grain – frame photography which can meet up with drawing – painting – textiles. My intention is to stimulate the regard by changing the points of view. I play with the production and diffusion processes of the image. I question the medium of photography by trying to build a “play area” which could open new visual preoccupations.

V – Sjoerd Knibbeler

sjoerd-knibbeler-003© Sjoerd Knibbeler, Current Study # 3, 2013.

sjoerd-knibbeler-018© Sjoerd Knibbeler, Skyline, videostill, 2013.

sjoerd-knibbeler-010© Sjoerd Knibbeler, FW-42, from the series The Paper Planes, 2014.

excerpt from press release @ Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam:

Knibbeler is working independently again, on a quest to capture wind. He tries to make the impossible possible by simulating tornados, folding model airplanes and trying – literally – to capture air. The model airplanes, all of which are based on designs that were never airborne, provide a context insinuating the impossibility of his quest. But parallel to these experiments he created video work showing an aerobatics pilot practicing his flight patterns on ground. In this work the complexity of the matter becomes tangible and the research of the contemporary experience of nature suddenly reappears. In November, LhGWR will present Knibbeler’s first solo show.

VI – Sushant Chhabria

ILMtext-637x800© Sushant Chhabria.

ilm_exhbit-1000x730© Sushant Chhabria, installation view, 2015.

chhabria_sushant-1© Sushant Chhabria, Untitled, 2015.

ilm_13-584x800© Sushant Chhabria, Untitled, 2015.

VII – Wawrzyniec Kolbusz

12-833x1024© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.
wawrzyniec_kolbusz_sacred-defense_14-834x1024© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.

wawrzyniec_kolbusz_sacred-defense_07-1024x834© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.

Installation-View-of-Sacred-Defense-by-Wawrzyniec-Kolbusz-Wroclaw-SEP-2014-f1-1024x683© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, installation view from the series Sacred Defense.

excerpt from Kolbusz’s statement @ Format Festival:

Sacred Defence, embedded in the Iranian post-war reality of the Iraq-Iran war (1980– 1988), is a story of producing artificial war images and reconstructing historical events to create a group memory. It is questioning whether reconstructed evidence is still evidence. It not only traces the existing modes of construction of fake war narrations. It also creates new war-related simulacra in digitally amended satellite images of nuclear installations. Hence, testing further the notion and limits of artificial evidence.

Sacred Defence is a game, in which images make us believe we see the war. We are looking at illusions, however. We follow how the war simulacra of social and political importance are being created within different spaces. A cinema city, constructed only for the purpose of shooting war movies, is a self-referencing space, created not to be experienced itself, but to become an image of war. Museums mimic the wartime reality in the smallest detail; wax figures of particular martyrs allow a meeting with fallen heroes again; and plastic replicas of antipersonnel mines sold as souvenirs.

From a play between the evident and the non-evident, author leads us to the point where he creates new simulation. He amends satellite images of Iranian nuclear installations with mutually exclusive versions of air strike destruction. Buildings destroyed in some images stand intact in others – parallel versions of the same event are presented on a single satellite map. Author is producing a ‘proof’ of an event that never happened despite being discussed in media.

VIII – Polly Tootal

picture_054print30x24c© Polly Tootal, #20406, 2014.

cf013534r44x59insq© Polly Tootal, #43534, 2014.

bcf013839_1r© Polly Tootal, #43839, 2014.

excerpt from an essay by Matthew Parker about Tootal’s work:

Polly Tootal is a photographer of British landscapes, yet the landscapes she registers are not likely to be found in any popular chronicle of the land, rejecting as they do the obvious beauty or grandeur of things and instead existing in the spaces in-between, the ones that are passed through every day, so nameless as to be embedded deeply into our consciousness and then forgotten. Perhaps this is why then, despite their surface anonymity, they all seem so uncannily familiar to me.


It’s no surprise to discover the Bechers are an influence, but compared to their typological surveys, her project is loose, deceptively objective, varying from image to image. Not concerned with the repetition of specific elements. Not so narrow in its vision. Instead, with each unique image, there’s a subtle vein of drama, an eye open to the strange and the exotic, the mundane and the obscure. Not limiting herself to specialised projects or adhering to restrictive formal rules, she instead takes an interest in atmosphere, humour, light and tone, looking to craft a delicate mood or declare a truth about a place. The ultimate goal is of a complex story, a vast and wide-ranging index of the British landscape and a store of unrelated yet connected images.

Common elements hold the project together. The images often lie upon thresholds and boundaries, liminal zones, between urban and rural, leisure and industry, lived in and discarded. Polly is interested in “places where abandoned industry mixes with functioning architecture and development, spaces left awaiting completion or areas of recent renewal.” Whether suburban, urban or rural, the subjects have, for the most part, been seen from the road; discovered and observed from the inside of a car. This might be another reason for the strange familiarity the images possess, their sometimes-disturbing déjà vu. I think to myself, how many times have I passed this place? Unknowingly drinking it in and storing it inside. Warehouses, business parks, shopping centers, waste-ground, motor- ways, car parks: the non-places that quietly fill up our lives, the sites of transience. Maybe I’ve seen none of them, but I am certain that I know the Little Chef, this stretch of motorway, that patch of industry, this housing estate.


And what has been left outside? Well, people, of course. There are no people in these landscapes. There are no moving objects either. There are no bustling, vibrant markets. And there are no stunning vistas that haven’t been touched by the modern world. If there is woodland there is a motorway bridge towering behind it in monumental silence, if there is a valley there happens to be a cement factory, if there is a quarry there is a housing estate it seems to be at war with. But for all these things it’s the absence of people that I find most interesting. Despite these being landscapes I feel as if they should be there. I find myself yearning for them. But I admire the fact that they will not come. Human portraits are not needed. If you know how to look, these rigorously poetic landscapes tell a story enough.

IX – Evangelia Kranioti

695ff4d5c22e8242ba64d8ee85bfd28b© Evangelia KraniotiFrom Lagos to Rio – end of sea passage, 2010, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

502d1520ef9b8689e48a48d7deb1f9ff© Evangelia Kranioti, Buddha of the main engine, 2012, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

7e2f10d380416ee7b341cec930747b2b© Evangelia Kranioti, Desert on board, 2011, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

excerpt from press release @ Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève:

At the heart of Evangelia Kranioti’s research are the notions of desire, wandering, and return to one’s origins. Inspired by the work of the Greek writer Nikos Kavvadias, Kranioti questions the male-female relationship through the fleeting loves of sailors in ports, terrae incognitae where the magic of wandering still operates.
The documentary essay Exotica, Erotica, etc. is the culmination of a long-term project undertaken over four years, during which she followed the crews of the Greek navy worldwide and spent months in the company of the women they frequent.
Through the stories of Sandy, former Chilean prostitute and those of these souls in perpetual homelessness, Kranioti poetically depicts the romantic imaginary of the sea, its tragic heroes and its forgotten loves.

X – David Magnusson

Purity-DM-028-560x700© David MagnussonJamie & David Clampitt, Shreveport, Louisiana, from the series Purita.

Purity-DM-005-560x700© David Magnusson, Will & Nicole Roosma, Tucson, Arizona, from the series Purita.

Purity-DM-027-560x700© David MagnussonJenna & Jeff Clark, Chandler, Arizona, from the series Purita.

excerpt from Jessica Valenti’s article Purity balls, Plan B and bad sex policy: inside America’s virginity obsession:

«The men and girls in the photos hold hands and embrace – the young women are in long white dresses, the men in suits or military regalia. If some of the girls in the pictures weren’t so young – Laila and Maya Sa up there are seven and five years old, respectively – the portraits could be mistaken for wedding or prom pictures. What they actually capture, though, are images of those who participate in purity balls – father-daughter dances featuring girls who pledge to remain virgins until marriage and fathers who promise to protect their daughters’ chastity.

The images from Swedish photographer David Magnusson’s new book, Purity, are beautiful, disturbing and tell a distinctly American story – a story wherein a girl’s virginity is held up as a moral ideal above all else, a story in which the most important characteristic of a young woman is whether or not she is sexually active. This narrative of good girls and bad girls, pure girls and dirty girls, is one that follows young women throughout their lives. Purity balls simply lay that dichotomy bare.


Magnusson says he hopes his pictures elicit empathy,not judgment: “As I learnt more, I understood that the fathers, like all parents, simply wanted to protect the ones that they love – in the best way they know how.”

I have no doubt that families who participate in purity balls are doing what they think is best for their children – but that doesn’t make them any less wrong. When we teach girls that their virginity makes them special and valuable, we’re sending the simultaneous message that without their virginity they are tainted and damaged.»

٠ The burqa ban and the nationalist notion of ‘egalité’ ٠

Justin Lambert © Justin Lambert

Recently, a discussion with my partner about the burqa ban in France and, in particular, the latest decision of The European Court of Human Rights to validate such prohibition, got me thinking about the different sides on this issue. Regarding the ban itself, my position is very straightforward: I would never support a way of making politics that is based on the idea that I can force people to behave accordingly to the cultural patterns that I find more adequate; I oppose laws that should never be anything more than guidelines or suggestions; I oppose laws that force an universal moral upon a personal ethics, and so on. To sum it up, as I see it, this is a human rights issue, a question of the free will to behave accordingly to my cultural heritage given that it is not harmful to myself or others.

My partner then call my attention to the significance of the burqa itself and all the oppressiveness associated with it, putting forward the argument that it would be coherent with my ideas to support attempts to help emancipate women. Although I agree with it, the state is not my nanny, and I don’t think the burqa ban in France has anything to do with that.

France’s ban on the Islamic veil has little to do with female emancipation is the title of an article by Joan Scott that sums up the issue.

Here’s an excerpt: The issue isn’t women’s emancipation, for all the pious rhetoric we’ve heard about equality being a “primordial value” of the French nation. It isn’t the danger that terrorists and robbers will hide behind burqas in order to blow up buildings or rob banks – the exemptions in the law for motorcycle helmets, fencing and ski masks, and carnival costumes quickly dispel that argument. And it isn’t about enforcing openness and transparency as an aspect of French culture. / Outlawing what the French call “le voile intégral” is part of a campaign to purify and protect national identity, purging so-called foreign elements – although many of these “foreigners” are actually French citizens – from membership in the nation. It is part of a cynical bid by Sarkozy and his party to capture the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim animus that has brought electoral gains to the rightwing National Front party and to disarm the Socialist opposition, which has so far offered little resistance to the xenophobic campaign.

burka+gunimage taken from here

The nationalist and neo-colonialist take on this issue is then supported with images (and news) such as the one above and the perverseness of such rhetoric should not be overlooked. This is the same premiss used in several other dimensions of social life than serve to justify the banning of immigrants and so on. It’s an open attack on everyone’s freedom and the discussion about the significance of the burqa is an all different matter…

┐ Augustin Rebetez, from joy to colera └

GP Rebetezaugustin_rebetez-sans_titre001_largeAugustin Rebetez01

“Augustin Rebetez breathes energy in his works. He has developed a very ownable style over a very short period of time, even though this is not easy to put in a box. With a combination of free and staged photography using his immediate surroundings, he constantly surprises with his work. Augustin is not afraid to cross over with sculpture, film, photography and even drawings. He is one of the rare new and raw talents that the world of photography is waiting for. The fact that he studied in Vevey and lives in the region came as a pleasant surprise for the international jury. The proposed project will be a very welcome catalyst to further develop his creative madness.” excerpt from the statement of this year’s Vevey award.


Augustin’s website here and his vimeo channel here

┐ Emile Barret – photography as an experience └

72_magnet3-3© Emile Barret, from the series Magnet3

72_magnet3-6© Emile Barret, from the series Magnet3

73_4x5foie-1© Emile Barret, from the series La Vanité est un Plaisir des Reins

73_barretemile11© Emile Barret, from the series La Vanité est un Plaisir des Reins

50_semainebloc4© Emile Barret, from the series La Disparition

50_semainebloc2© Emile Barret, from the series La Disparition

This MAN’s work is such a breath of fresh air I don’t even know which of his works not to post. Emile’s website here

┐ Jacques Audiard’s obsession with human resilience └

Jacques Audiard’s “trilogy”, very worth watching: De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone), 2012, De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), 2005 and Sur mes lèvres (Read my Lips), 2001

┐ Christian Boltanski – death from within └

5498496647_85c3f87a4d_o© Christian Boltanski, Odessa Monument, 1991. Four gelatin silver prints, lights and wiring

“Since the late 1960s, Christian Boltanski (b. 1944, Paris) has worked with photographs collected from ordinary and often ephemeral sources, endowing the commonplace with significance. Rather than taking original photographs to use in his installations, he often finds and rephotographs everyday documents—passport photographs, school portraits, newspaper pictures, and family albums—to memorialize everyday people. Boltanski seeks to create an art that is indistinguishable from life and has said, The fascinating moment for me is when the spectator hasn’t registered the art connection, and the longer I can delay this association the better. By appropriating mementos of other people’s lives and placing them in an art context, Boltanski explores the power of photography to transcend individual identity and to function instead as a witness to collective rituals and shared cultural memories.”

2© Christian Boltanski, Sans Fin, part of installation showed in the 54th Venice Biennial

1© Christian Boltanski, Dog in the street, 1991. Installation, Photograph, gelatin silver photograph, lamp, biscuit box and electrical wires

“While the particular images in this installation represent children and the family dog at play, there is a brooding sadness and sense of threat which suggests that fear of loss which accompanies all our joys. The black-and-white photos are taken from, or simulate, old family snaps and sometimes news-paper images. This style is deliberate: the black-and-white prints feel like a literal trace in a way that colour plates and digital images do not. We seem to be able to sense the process embedded in the materiality of the print that is created when light falls onto silver nitrate and changes its chemical structure. In this way the light that ‘touches’ the object also touches the print. Because of this intimate process, the photo of a loved one is more than a likeness; it is a relic of their having once been there in front of the camera. This process is further enhanced by the dim reading lamp which is attached to a frame and by the old biscuit tin below each photo which suggests the collections of memorabilia that most of us have in some cupboard or shed.2 The boxes in this installation contain snapshots of the families represented in the larger photographs. The effect also suggests the use of photos in ‘ex votos’ and memorials to the departed. (…) Boltanski plays upon the ambiguity of photography and memory by presenting these found photo-graphs from family albums or archives. In re-photographing them he further degrades the likeness and enhances the feeling of distance in time from the event. He exploits our predisposition to accept the authenticity of old black-and-white images as actual records of events yet presents them with deliberate theatrical effect. The atmosphere he creates is like that of a shrine in a cathedral or mausoleum, but it does not feel like mock religiosity – it is more personal than that and at the same time has broader cultural associations.”

docclick image to see a documentary about Christian’s life and work, in UBUWEB

┐ A Prototype for the Futture – la ZAD – 17th November 2012 └

“We have entered La ZAD (Zone A Défendre) – Europe’s largest postcapitalist protest camp – a kind of rural occupy on the eastern edge of Brittany, half and hour’s drive from the city of Nantes.  Like a rebel constellation spread across 4000 acres of forest, farmland and marshes, it takes the form of old squatted farms and fields, DIY strawbale houses, upcycled sheds, theatres and bars cobbled from industrial pallets, hobbit like round houses, cute cabins built with the worlds waste, huts perched frighteningly high in trees and a multitude of other disobedient architectural fantasies. La ZAD has been a laboratory for ways of living despite capitalism since the 2009 French Climate Camp. At the camp activists and locals put together a call for people to come and live on the Zone to protect it.  Now you can find illegal goat herds and organic bakeries, bike workshops and bee hives, working farms and communal kitchens, a micro brewery, a mobile library, and even a pirate radio station: Radio Klaxon. Emitting from a secret location somewhere in the Zone, the station hijacks the airwaves of “Radio Vinci Autoroute” the traffic information channel run byVinci for its private network of French motorways. The world’s largest multinational construction firm, builders of nuclear power stations, African uranium mines, oil pipelines, motorways, car parks and the infrastructure of hyper capitalism everywhere, Vinci also happen to be the company commissioned by the French government to cover this landscape in concrete and open Nantes new airport (it already has one) by 2017.  Well that’s the plan. (…)

On the 16th of October 1200 riot police overran La ZAD. What had been a state free autonomous zone for 3 years was transformed within a few hours into a militarised sector. Road blocks sealed the area, Guard Mobiles (military mobile gendarme units) swarmed everywhere and bulldozers groaned across the fields. Despite resistance from the Zadists within two days the state had destroyed 9 of the 12 of the squatted spaces. On one of the days, 250 rounds of tear gas were fired into the market garden, seemingly to contaminate the vegetables that until that moment had fed over 100 Zadists every week. A principle of war is of course: cut off the supplies.(…)

Ayrault [the airport] has promoted the project as a “green” airport. It is planned to have living roofs covered in plants, the two runways have been designed to minimise taxiing to save on CO2 emissions and an organic community supported box scheme is meant to feed its employees. Next year Nantes will celebrate its latest award: European Green City 2013.  To call this double speak is generous. According to a recent report a hundred million people will die of climate driven deaths over the next eighteen years. 80 percent of the slaughtered will be in countries with lower emissions. The Climate Catastrophe is no just a threat to our ecosystems and the species we share the biosphere with, it’s a violent war on the poor. A war whose weapons are built out of steel and concrete, tarmac and plastic, a war with a ticking methane bomb hiding under the artic. Waged by the logic of growth and disguised as everyday life according to capitalism, climate change is the war that could end all wars and all life with it. Calling an airport green is as cynical as calling a concentration camp humane. Perhaps in the future  if we are lucky t have one, descendents will contemplate the ruins of airports as we do the sites of 18th century slave markets and wonder how a culture could have committed such barbarity so openly.(…)

Since the evictions began the art of building barricades has taken over everyday life here. Everywhere you go there are little teams busy hauling materials across fields to erect another barricade. The idea is to slow the advance of the authorities, who have named their operation “Cesar” (Caesar), perhaps a reference to Obelix and Asterix’s resistant gallic village. The police have taken the weekend off and so barricade building takes place unhindered. Now there are ones rising on the main roads as well as the green lanes. The multiplicity of different barricades reflects the different cultures at La Zad. Those living in tree houses in the Rohanne Forest have asked people not to cut living trees to make them, whilst in another part of the Zone a team of chainsaw wielding activists are tacking down oak trees and tangling steel rope in them. On one crossroads there are at least 20 barricades. There are huge hay rounds with cans of petrol beside them ready to set alight when the police attack, there is a steel wall of sitex – Anti squatting panels normally placed on doors and windows of empty houses –carefully welded together and one made from dozens of bamboo poles sticking out of the tarmace decorated with bicycle wheels.  In the middle of it all there is makeshift kitchen with its mobile pizza oven made from an oil drum.

An affinity group armed with cordless angle grinders and pick axes, have been working day and night to cut out giant trenches in the roads –  in some cases several metres wide and deeper than a standing adult.   Ishmel tells me that yesterday road agency workers came to mend one of the smaller trenches  (not surrounded by barricades). People talked to the workers, trying to persuade them to turn around and not do the dirty work of Vinci. Despite having their boss on the phone coercing them to keep going, they eventually turned around and left the hole in the road. One of the workers later said “ What troubled me most was that I’m from around here and (clearing the barricades to allow the police to circulate) feels a bit like I was helping demolish my neighbours house.”There have also been stories of local police officers that refused to join the operation.

excerpt of Laronce‘s article Rural Rebels and Useless Airports: La ZAD – Europe’s largest Postcapitalist land occupation. continue reading here

More bout La Zad in their site and in the blog of Notre Dame des Landes

┐ Pauline Fouché └

© Pauline Fouché, from the series Cassures (Cracks), 2002

© Pauline Fouché, from the series Cassures (Cracks), 2002

© Pauline Fouché, from the series Cassures (Cracks), 2002

The Cassures materialize an event-image abundant in the newspapers by reapropriation through the gesture and the image. Abused and reduced to the fragility of their appearance as well as that of their medium, these images attempt to reveal spaces other than those represented, where the subject disconnects itself from its direct relationship to the news, expressing as such a distance between the event and its representation.

« Pauline Fouché works with the relationship we might have to the news images (and particularly those of war and human drama) through the gesture-motif of the Cassures. Through the photographic reproduction of a crumpled up newspaper, an image that cannot be taken by its backside, beyond representation is produced. It is simultaneously a crevice and an invagination. We can almost hear the sound of a clash where time-lines are anarchically broken : tragedy of an event, factuality of media treatment, concussion of the glance. »

Morad Montazami

More of Pauline’s work here

┐ Summer Riots └

photo taken from Le Chat Noir Emeutier

“Violent clashes between youths and riot police in the northern French city of Amiens have left 16 officers injured and several public buildings torched in some of the worst rioting in the area for years – reopening the fraught political debate about France’s troubled housing estates.

Rioting broke out on deprived estates in the north of the city at 9pm on Monday and raged until 4am. Around 100 youths set fire to cars, a nursery school and a youth centre as well as firing buckshot and projectiles at police officers, who saturated the streets with teargas as reinforcements arrived from neighbouring areas.

“The confrontations were very, very violent,” the mayor of Amiens, Gilles Dumailly, told French television network BFM, describing “a scene of devastation”.

There had been unrest among youths on housing estates in Amiens-Nord earlier this month and again on Sunday night, apparently sparked by tensions over spot checks by police on residents.

French media reported that violence broke out between local residents and the police following a check on a driver said to be driving dangerously, near to the spot where the family and friends of a 20-year-old who died in a motorbike crash on Thursday had gathered for a memorial ceremony.”

continue reading this Guardian news

┐ Erwan Frotin └

© Erwan Frotin, Pain à Pieds Bleus, from the series Sketch, 2006

© Erwan Frotin, Perdreau Fantôme, from the series Sketch, 2006

More of Erwan’s weird “species” here work here

┐ Wladd Muta └

© Wladd Muta, Hypercops 1 On Mountains, 2011

© Wladd Muta

Les pétales des fleurs de grenouilles, “AnUra-Flora“,
se développent dans un tout premier temps
à partir des tissus pulmonaires du batracien (fig.1.).
L’amorce de la mutation utilise
les traces génétiques fantômes
des branchies du stade larvaire (têtards).
Le pétale se constitue ensuite
exclusivement sur une base
de tissu épithélial humide (muqueuse) respiratoire.
L’étalement des tissus s’accompagne,
progressivement et en s’amplifiant,
d’une hybridation du tramage cellulaire
Même une fois aboutie, l‘AnUra-Flora
gardera toujours
cette singularité cellulaire hybride.
La fleur se déploie tout autour d’un cœur ;
celle-ci n’a pas de tige.

I met Wladd’s work about 4 or 5 years ago when it was a hybrid of photography, design and digital technology. He now seams to be working in his own unique realm of arguments given the ideology and research behind his works.

Some of Wladd’s work here

┐ Jean-Noël Pazzi └

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 5 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, forêt 6 – paysage, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 3 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

“Ménager les site frappés de croyance comme indispensable territoire d’errement de l’esprit. Gilles Clément Manifeste du tiers paysage

Cela aurait pu être une belle histoire, un doux romantisme entre l’homme et la nature. Mais il n’en est rien. Je trafique, reconstruis et extrais. Je recherche des formes à construire ou à mettre en lumière. La nature a toujours été mon terrain de jeu; je la transforme.
Michel Foucault disait à propos des hétérotopies qu’ils sont des lieux précis, que l’on peut définir sur une carte, mais investis par des mondes utopiques. Un théâtre ou un musée, par exemple, sont des hétérotopies, définissables géographiquement mais investis par des mondes imaginaires; des mondes dans un monde. La nature a, pour moi, aussi cette faculté. C’est un lieu magique, un lieu imaginaire.
Mon travail est fortement lié à cet imaginaire, qui est vu au travers d’un prisme intermédiaire, celui d’un appareil photographique. Composée de deux séries (Les cadavres exquis et Paysages), In(ter)vention est une recherche de formes et de textures, où la nature est détournée au profit d’une interprétation personnelle de ses éléments constitutifs.
D’un côté, c’est une nature décontextualisée et arrangée par mes soins; des compositions traitées en studio. De l’autre, c’est le studio qui s’invite dans la nature et dévoile par la lumière des formes et des ambiances. Dans les deux cas, il y a de cette inquiétante étrangeté. La présence de la mort dans Les cadavres exquis ou l’ambiance nocturne des Paysages confère à cette série une dimension surréaliste.
Mon univers est la nuit, le monde des rêves, celui des chimères qui sortent de leur caverne. Des bruits nous guettent, ils nous survolent, nous effleurent. Un craquement à droite, puis des ailes se déploient, elles ululent, tourbillon: silence. Le vent soulève les feuilles. Il caresse nos cheveux et chante entre les pieds de géants feuillus. Un éclair! L’appareil à tout vu. Pour moi, encore une fois, c’est une figure étrange qui s’est dessinée dans l’ombre des branches. Une interprétation innocente, mue par la curiosité: une aventure.
C’est à cette étrangeté nocturne et sylvestre que je veux convier le spectateur.”

Jean-Noël Pazzi

More of Jean-Noël’s work here

┐ Calais: this border kills └

@ Julie Rebouillat,No Border Calais, manif, 27 June 2009

Refugees in Calais find shelter where they can, in spaces left abandoned or neglected by French citizens. Some sleep in the park or under the canal bridges. Most live in one of two kinds of dwellings: (a) squats in deserted buildings, of which there are many in the post-industrial landscape of the town; and (b) the ‘jungles’ or camps made up of tents and makeshift shelters on disused sites and wasteland, usually around the outskirts of the town.

These settlements are not just shelters, but homes. Here people sleep; eat; sit and drink coffee around the fire; play cards; read and study; listen to and play music; dance; wash their clothes; welcome newcomers and visitors; and share food, water, tobacco, conversation, and each others’ company. But this life is under constant threat. Police raid the squats and jungles every day and night. A particular settlement may be left alone for two or three days, but never for long. Or it may be targeted with repeated visits, and attacked multiple times in one night.

These raids raise a number of questions as to their legality. Under French law, the police normally require permission from the owner and/or occupants in order to enter a property, or, failing this, a warrant from the court. CMS activists have witnessed and documented quite literally hundreds of police raids in Calais. We believe that the vast majority of these may have been carried out without authority.

Besides arresting people, when police officers raid they frequently slash or flatten tents; smash windows; throw away or contaminate water; spray bedding with CS gas; and generally destroy or take peoples’ personal belongings. This is an everyday reality. During bigger raids, council workers accompany the police to demolish buildings; confiscate tents and belongings in trucks; and/or spray disinfectant and other chemicals, on possessions, including on bedding.

In particularly nasty incidents, activists have returned to Africa House following major raids to find that bedding had been damaged and urinated on, and that walls had been daubed with what appears to be Neo-Nazi graffiti. We have also witnessed damage to Muslim prayer spaces and the desecration of holy books, including a Tigrinyan Bible, and the Koran.

Along with beatings, arrests and identity checks in the street, these raids contribute to a constant state of fear for refugees in Calais. This in itself has obvious effects on peoples’ mental health and well-being. Yet raids further undermine bodily and mental health by making it impossible to create stable and hygienic living conditions. For example, since cooking utensils as well as food supplies are regularly stolen or destroyed, it becomes near impossible for migrants to feed themselves adequately.

Finally, to add to the pressure, police employ what can only be described as tactics of psychological warfare, such as repeated nightime visits with sirens, bright torches and loud music.

Full document compiled by Calais Migrant Solidarity of the No Borders network, documenting police violence from June 2009 to June 2011 can be found here

More of Julie’s work here