The past sixteen years, since the creation of the Boutographies, have given rise to an encounter with new talents, to debates and comparisons with the world of European contemporary photography in all its aspects. Throughout this fertile period of discovery, the Boutographies have affirmed their project, based on a simple and ambitious responsibility: to show what the most contemporary creative photography is proposing. This is expressed by a particular attention paid to the way images are created, to represent and give shape to what fills and accompanies our lives, more than to the events themselves, essentially elusive.
The programme for 2017 offers a wide display of the ways the photographic image has been considered and constructed by the most talented of the more than six hundred photographers who presented their work this year. Some have approached the image from a point of view primarily physical – odours, sounds, and non-figurative perceptions – images which, by refusing all allusion, evoke a greater imaginative or symbolic power. Christelle Boulé, Eun Chun and Jannemarein Renout have taken this route. The other artists presented on the walls or in projection are closer to a more traditional approach, but no less attentive to sensitivity, a human presence and a relationship to a given space. Ali Mobasser and Sandra Mehl, who we are delighted to welcome for her first important exhibition in her home town, observe the presence of individuals for whom they have a close attachment, in a relationship full of curiosity, empathy and questioning. With Zoé Van Der Haegen and Flaminia Celata (Fotoleggendo Echange Prize 2016), nature carries the memory of a human presence that intervenes in the forms, material and substance, even before exercising its power over the imagination. Alban Lécuyer offers a more documentary proposition, with his portrait of a town, Phnom Penh, which seems to want to exorcise the events of its near disappearance as an entity under the regime of the Khmer Rouge. As for Jennifer Niederhauser-Schlup, if her series is constructed like a narrative, it is to underline its imaginary character and to remind us of photography’s capacity to nourish the imagination by an irresistible “temptation of reality”. Olga Stefatou, Ikuru Kuwajima and Demetris Koilalous take us along routes and bye-ways: those that lead us towards our origins, and those who’s trace is both fragile and immemorial. In all three cases, the voyages represented by the photographers are seen as difficult and necessary tests to confront their own burdens, their own bonds, and moments of self-domination, which enable them to continue to exist, elsewhere.
The Orient, whether it be the Near or Far East is particularly present in this 2017 selection. Ikuru Kuwajima is Japanese, but lives in Moscow. Eun Chun is a Korean from Paris; Ali Mobasser is of Iranian origin, living in London. Olga Stefatou, Greek, studied in Beijing. Demetris Koilalous comes to us from Greece itself, that is to say the most south-easterly part of Europe. Alban Lécuyer shows us a Cambodia in full reconstruction. At a moment when the West is racked with profound doubts and a political climate of regression not seen for decades, our attention was captured by these perceptions come from afar, along with those who, more close to home, continue to liberate the terrain of photographic expression with their diverse sensitivities and an inexhaustible inventiveness.
For the Boutographies team