Photography: Jean-Luc de Laguarigue—Nord Plage

Copyright: Jean-Luc de Laguarigue
Copyright: Jean-Luc de Laguarigue

AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) Caraïbes du Sud recently featured a series of photographs from the Nord-Plage series by Jean-Luc de Laguarigue, which were exhibited some time ago in Fort-de-France, Martinique, prior to the presentation of the entire series in January 2014. Here are excerpts with a link to the full interview and photos below:Bottom of Form

How difficult is it for an artist and photographer to live and work in a region without any structured promotion or art market? How does this influence his production?  This question does not seem to apply to the status of a region even though history and insularity add to the difficulty. When you look closer you realize that very few artists live from their art. That is undoubtedly the reason why many visual artists choose to teach or work in art training workshops. Everyone tries to find their own solution. Photography is ambivalent in that sense, as it can offer many possibilities including providing professional services and the practice of my artistic work. I have had for long years to cope with providing services or else, earn a living. All the same, I have always tried to save some time for my personal work, although this means maintaining some balance in the two activities. But I try to cope with this option. [. . .]

The word photography has multiple meanings and involves many practices. How you define and limit your art in this contemporary art world?  [. . .] My art work can be defined through several aspects: it focuses at the same time on rehabilitated memory as a tool of knowledge, a research on the image aesthetics with its own language, and a projection in time. I have expressed this temporality in many works, maybe in all my creations, in fact. Otherwise, I have always believed -or felt- the world was there for me to reach and that the more specific one is the more they can reach the universal or ‘diversality’ to repeat the word used by Edouard Glissant. That is why I set to work on Martinique –‘this place is impossible to miss’- without any regionalist inclination. Then for personal reasons, my art work is very much influenced by the concept of breaking-off or loss, of chance and memory, which in fact brings us back to the notion of time.

What circumstances brought you to visit Nord-Plage (North Beach) for the first time? What were your first impressions? I remember very clearly, that was back in 1993, and the photos I made then are definitely without any interest: being blinded and mesmerized by the place, I had been unable to express any emotional distance. But still, back home that evening, I wrote this in my diary: ‘While there, it reminded me of Cartier-Bresson in Spain’. What I had seen in Nord-Plage had reminded me of one of his photographs made in 1933 in Valence which represented a child walking with his arms open along a wall stained with blood. This triggered off my project.

It seems that this Nord-Plage series focuses more on the landscape unlike the first series – People from My Land, Land of the Imaginary- which focuses more on portraits.  I needed precisely to evacuate this impingement of images on my retina, this influence that was left by Cartier-Bresson’s photo, and I could not find myself in a situation that would lead me deliberately or not to copy his work in any way. That would have been meaningless. Time –again- to appropriate the image was therefore necessary. Progressively I could perceive the singularity of this place, its specific geographical location, its ‘way of the cross’ –literally and poetically-; and the tragic aspect of this loss, its dramatization. This brought me back to some part of my childhood. It may look like a caricature expressing it this way, but there I saw a sacred place where what is alive could only be defined by its last breath – a place where absence could be incarnated in a masterly manner. Besides, I refused to reproduce in a different way People of My Land or Land of the Imaginary. [. . .]

For full interview, see

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