Beginning his career as a foreign correspondent, Raymond Depardon has since established himself as a major artist through his books, exhibitions and films. Between 1961 and 2013, he frequently photographed the constantly changing rhythm of Berlin which is the focus of this book. Here Depardon is witness to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the arrival of famous visitors like Robert Kennedy and Queen Elisabeth, the Tunix congress, the fall of the Wall and the reconstruction of two sides of an abandoned frontier which never really disappeared. Finally Depardon depicts contemporary Berlin, a fractured and fascinating city of memorials, eclecticism and self-realization.
At the age of 22 I was sent to Saigon to cover the war as a photojournalist, records Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Raymond Depardon (born 1942). "Muggers robbed me on my arrival, and I lived in a small hotel by the river … I think I was happy. I returned some years later. It was for another war, and the famous reporters had left. The streets were full of GIs and their girlfriends, of blind bomb victims and so many children returning to school. It was the end of an epoch, people would hand flowers to the soldiers … I stayed for months in this city that no longer exists." This beautiful hardback volume covers a varied range of imagery from Saigon, where Depardon photographed two wars and, on visits as recent as 2014, the unrecognizable, globalized city now called Ho Chi Minh. Depardon's work bears witness to a city in transition.
In 1977, I met Franco Basaglia, director of the manicomio [lunatic asylum] at the hospital in Trieste, who was also the leader of an alternative psychiatric movement. Taking advantage of the chaotic political situation in Italy at the time, he started to close several psychiatric hospitals with a group of doctors, and had 'Law 180' passed in 1978, which resulted in the definitive closure of the asylums. Franco encouraged me to take photographs of this reality, 'If not, they will not believe us,' he told me. With more than a hundred thousand people interned in psychiatric asylums all over Italy, the situation was indeed dramatic. He also introduced me to directors of other asylums in Venice, Naples, Arezzo and Turin. For four years, until the closure of the hospital on the island of San Clemente very close to Venice, I photographed these places of pain to preserve them in memory and to pay tribute to Franco Basaglia--who died from a sudden illness in 1980. My film about San Clemente came out in 1982, but it's only now thirty years later--after a long pause--that I have finally edited and designed the photographic work that was begun all those years ago. --Raymond Depardon
Published by Steidl Photography International. Text by Paul Virilio, Raymond Depardon.
Acclaimed French photographer, filmmaker and journalist Raymond Depardon arrived in New York in the winter of 1980. He came to visit a friend who had just taken a job in the city, and to kill time he strolled around the streets with his Leica. As a self-imposed constraint, and to encourage serendipitous results, he decided to take pictures without ever using the camera's viewfinder. Working incognito throughout the nooks and crannies of New York City, Depardon amassed two or three rolls a day--but when the time came to assess the results, he was thoroughly disappointed. He never mentioned the experiment to anybody and has only now decided to unveil these "blind" pictures to his public. Reexamining the work some 27 years "after the photographs were taken, Depardon was surprised to discover that most of his subjects were aware that they were being photographed, and that consequently the images contain more artifice than he had expected. His subjects project an affect of indifference in their knowing glances towards the camera lens, thereby immortalizing the very spirit and charm of 1980s New York, a period for which there is increasing fondness and nostalgia today. With an essay by the great philosopher Paul Virilio, this monograph opens up an exciting and hitherto lost chapter in Depardon's storied career.
Published by Dis Voir/ Actes Sud. Edited by Benoit Rivero.
In Our Farm, the famed French photographer Raymond Depardon tells his early life story with his very first photographs, describing his youth as a farmer's son on the banks of the Saône River, filled with the ardent and urgent desire to testify to the state of the world and of his fellows. "The stone staircase in front of the kitchen is still there. It leads up to the loft. Though my memory isn't entirely clear, I seem to remember that it was my first landmark on the farm. As a child, I was only allowed to go up the very first steps…I still like to sit on those stairs today. Is it because of the perfect shape of the steps, worn by the passing of time? Is it their color that changes with the light and the seasons? It is pleasant there, in the winter sun. You are sheltered from the wind that blows through the Saône valley. In summer, it is the hottest spot in the courtyard. When evening falls, the red sun sinks behind the top steps."