Price on the spot


Work : Price on the spot

Series of photomontages. Travel mementoes with a price.

Location :

Various places. The  World 2008 to 2010.

Reference text :

From 2008 to 2010, I traveled around the world for the project: “Le chant des piste”. Built on the principle of concatenation, this consisted of asking my successive travel meetings to determine my next destination by giving me the address of a relative to visit on their behalf.
Influenced by relational aesthetics, my ambition was to create “states of encounter” of which I then kept a photographic trace while my entire journey was the subject of a regular epistolary chronicle intended for personalities from the Parisian art world.
Alas, I very quickly measured the immense distance that separated my idea on paper and the reality of a world in crisis that I was willing to backpack through.
A thousand miles from the white cube of the galleries, most of my contacts were unbalanced, superficial. I saw myself as an empathetic human who wanted to talk about art; For the exhausted peasants I met during my long hours on the bus and who talked to me about survival, I was simply a tourist. I claimed to be an artist, but to them I was little more than a foreigner rich enough to afford a leisurely stroll.
I questioned myself; This is the essence of the journey. Yes, I was that tourist too. A guy in shorts and a camera slung over his shoulder among the hundreds who flooded into their country without knowing anything about it. Not one of those who come back saying: « I made India, I made Brazil », nor one of those who only travel to take the shot they have already seen a hundred times in the albums from their neighbors and of whom they want their personal copy, even less from those whose bus stops right in front of the pyramids and to whom we say « it’s there ». But all the same, I too often went by too quickly, I only took the time to visit certain cities only the essential sites, the “postcard” images. I too pretended to believe in these extras in traditional costumes, in these local souvenirs mass-produced in Taiwan…

The series: “Price on the spot” talks about this accumulation of clichés, in every sense of the word. It offers beautiful, clean views that seem stuck in an outdated moleskin album à la Chatwin. On the other side of the image, again in every sense of the word, the reality is more grating. A bank note, an abstruse legend questions the viewer. Does its author, like an entomologist, collect banknotes and humans in the same way that he would then place on the same level? Is the cut simply a marker intended to clarify the location of the shot? What does the amount correspond to? Did the artist pay the amount indicated to have his photo as is commonly done, did he rather buy time with the subject for less avowed favors, which would justify the title « Prize on the spot » – the living  » ?
Even if everyone is free to construct their interpretation, from the most innocent to the most sordid, by drawing on their own contradictions, the accessible, even naive nature of this series undoubtedly evokes the ambivalent feelings and a certain form of guilt that I have been able to experience at different moments of this two-year journey. These are partly linked to the gap in lifestyle existing between my hosts and me, to the acculturation effects of mass tourism, to the commodification of human relationships, to the humanitarian crises of which I have measured the extent in spite of myself.





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