Fondation Cartier, Paris


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Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Tokyo, Berlin, Moscow, Addis Ababa, Cairo: 7 cities, and the desire to film. In response to a commission by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Raymond Depardon has turned his gaze upon these places which he has, for the most part, already photographed, returning to the “scene of the crime”—as is his habit—and confronting “his successive ways of seeing, that of the reporter, of the young photographer, then of the more experienced, more socially conscious photographer.” A certain way of seeing, of confronting himself.

Raymond Depardon has been traveling since the age of 17: he began his career as a photojournalist in 1958. Since then, he has continued to explore the planet, always avoiding the “big event”, the “spectacle of the world,” emphasizing instead “a taste for reality, for the documentary, together with a rejection of aestheticism”. He has photographed Africa and New York, the Olympics, the fall of the Berlin Wall, rural life; he has often filmed in enclosed spaces: a psychiatric hospital, a police station, the office of the deputy public prosecutor, a courtroom. For the Fondation Cartier, he has already filmed the Yanomami Indians of Brazil (Chasseurs et Chamanes, 2002) and participated in several exhibitions: By Night (1996), Amours(1997), le désert (2000). He says that he feels at home in the desert and that the city scares him. He has photographed and filmed the city, but says he has “accounts to settle” with it. And yet, “along with the desert, the city is a place where you can find a certain solitude. There aren’t a lot of people looking at you. It’s like a new kind of desert. A labyrinth. You can get lost in it. Find yourself, as well.” For his exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, Raymond Depardon has decided to “meditate on his relationship to the city. A relationship that isn’t always easy, a love-hate relationship.” The focus is not on the top-ranking megalopolises of the world: no boundaries were set for the geography of this exhibition.

7x3: The simultaneous screening of 7 films, each lasting 3 to 5 minutes, in color or black-and-white, shot in 16 mm and projected in video, a succession of moving images, without sound. “I’m a quiet photographer.” Quiet and solitary. A photographer who seeks that solitude, endeavors to be as unobtrusive as possible, hesitates to move closer, prefers, above all, to stay put, to find the right distance. After shooting an average of ten different scenes in each city, he retained only one, an instant in time selected by the author. Raymond Depardon, 7x3, An Exhibition of Films November 13, 2004—February 27, 2005 Press opening with the artist on Friday, November 12, from 3:00 to 5:00pm In these cities, there is a quest. Perhaps for the ideal city, for the ideal moment. The idea was detach myself from my experience as a “picture-taking professional”, as if I were using my camera for the first time. Do whatever I want. Forget what’s happening, let go. With great freedom. Usually, you’re supposed to have a reason to film. I have no reason to film, just a motivation, an urge, a desire. That’s where this exhibition originated: in the desire to film. Raymond Depardon, 23 August 2004 Rio de Janeiro Shanghai Tokyo Berlin Moscou Addis Ababa Cairo

July 2004, Rio de Janeiro: the first stop on his itinerary, and the only city, out of the seven, which was not yet known to him. He found the light to be extraordinary, a lyrical city. At the end of August, he flew to Asia. Shanghai and Tokyo: the largest cities in the Far East. Then Europe: Berlin and Moscow, two cities undergoing change, turned towards the future. His personal geography would naturally include Africa. But a somewhat off-beat Africa, revealing his special connection with this continent: Cairo, the biggest city in the Middle East, a crossroads for African and Eastern symbols. And Addis Ababa, a city which Raymond Depardon is particularly fond of. Staying only briefly in each of these cities, he was able to preserve that sense of the “first impression,” inimitable, which he has always emphasized in his work.

As a pendant to the 7 films specially produced for the Fondation Cartier, Raymond Depardon presents 3 films which complete this tour of the world. His first film was shot in Prague in 1969 at the funeral of Jan Palach, the man who set himself on fire to protest the Soviet occupation. In New York, NY(1986) he observes how impossible it is to film a city, shooting 4 minutes every day for 2 months. With excerpts from Paris(1998), hovering somewhere between documentary and fiction, in black and white, he provides a portrait of the city through the effervescence and enclosed environment of the Saint-Lazare train station.

7x3is the first exhibition dedicated to Raymond Depardon’s films. In it, he invents a way of seeing. An experience of time. A point of view that is both a “window” onto others and a “mirror”, indicating “his place, his personality, his sensitivity.” He says he started the project with a slight feeling of apprehension. The sort of apprehension mixed with excitement that you feel before meeting someone for the first time. Knowing that, afterwards, you will never be the same. The 7 films in the exhibition Raymond Depardon, 7x3, An Exhibition of Films, were produced with the support of ZKM, Filminstitut, Karlsruhe, Germany.


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Raymond Depardon, 7x3, An Exhibition of Films
Rio de Janeiro Shanghai Tokyo Berlin Moscou Addis Ababa Cairo