No name written on the back of the picture, no nationality, no date either. Identity photos, large format photos in studio pose, retouched and pastelized portraits… This book was born from the discovery by Jean-Marie Donat of the photographic collection of the Studio Rex located in the working-class district of Belsunce in Marseille, essentially composed of photos of migrants from North and West Africa.
There are :
– so-called “portfolio” photos, family photos taken in the country of origin, waiting to be copied and sometimes colored by the studio;
– identity photos taken for administrative reasons such as the application for a residence permit;
– studio photos, in the style of Malick Sidibé’s photographs, taken in France to be sent to relatives back home.
These photos remained in the store’s archives, as the migrants often did not have time to pick them up before leaving the city, in a hurry for a job offer elsewhere in France.
The juxtaposition, selection and assembly of the 700 photographs, as well as the testimonies collected by the author Souâd Belhaddad, offer several points of view that overlap, blurring the line between the public and the private, between the history of these men and women in transit and that of a country: an administrative photography that nevertheless reveals the intimacy of the faces in a tight shot, a photograph of representation, full-length, valorizing but whose repetitive staging throughout the photos shows its fragility, and a photography of the intimate, that we copy and yet modify.
Ne m’oublie pas reweaves the broken dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean by comparing the photos brought from the country of origin and, in return, those taken in France for relatives back home.
- 352pp, 170 × 240 mm
- Delpire & co, 2023