200 photographers document the country today

200 photographers document the country today

They have the glamor of a Hollywood couple. Platinum blond hair, head thrown back, Gisèle, 75, kisses her companion, under the pink spotlights of a tea dance in the capital. This image of seniors who have the flame, taken from the series Stayin' Alive, by Julie Glassberg, is one of the gems of the exhibition “France under their eyes”, presented at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, in Paris. Thanks to a public order launched in 2021, the largest of its type in Europe with a budget of 5.46 million euros, the institution has included in its collections 2,000 photos taken by 200 photographers on the theme of our country today, and offers a selection of 500 prints.

Liberties, equalities, fraternities

To bring together so many points of view, punctuating the entire territory up to the overseas borders, the route is structured around the republican motto. “We have changed the trio of freedom(s), equality(s), fraternity(s) to the plural, increased by a part on the potentialities,” specifies co-curator Héloïse Conésa. At a time when disparities are increasing, each value finds expression while being called into question. Thus, among the “Libertés”, a section of youth, portrayed by Philippe Labrosse, takes to the streets for the causes that are close to their heart, notably the protection of the environment, while the adolescents followed by Jérôme Gence in Lyon (Rhône) or in Poitiers (Vienne) sometimes allow themselves to be trapped in the all-screen trap.

At the heart of this fluoroscopy, the “Equalities” chapter explores the major subject of access to work, in accelerated metamorphosis under the effect of globalization; until the emergence of new, sometimes difficult jobs. “Sophie Loubaton managed to slip into the logistics factories located in the open countryside and highlight the little hands who prepare and distribute our packages,” underlines Emmanuelle Hascoët, the other co-curator. Faced with growing social inequalities, the “Fraternities” are organizing towards the most vulnerable, like the young migrants who have obtained training as fisherman and whom Olivier Jobard accompanied offshore, from Nantes (Loire- Atlantique) in Boulogne-sur-Mer (North).

Because, as the last section “Potentialities” suggests, the world of tomorrow remains to be invented. Certainly, reporters continue to document the threats weighing on the planet, from climate change to soil pollution, but they also turn their lenses towards those who are already writing new pages of history: outdoor classes on the coast Atlantic by Catalina Martin-Chico, farmers of Beauce converted to organic by Olivier Laban-Mattei or even families living self-sufficiently in Occitanie by Alexa Brunet, the pioneers of another model of society seem to have wings. At the end of the exhibition, a section of wall displays press publications on these inspiring views: Pilgrim it features prominently, with its front page dedicated to the series by Hervé Lequeux (No. 7298) about the princes of resourcefulness in Aubiers, a city in Bordeaux.

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