Let’s be honest: the photographic exercise weighs on me more and more.

Taking pictures of a place or an exhibition literally enchants me because I savor in advance what I will be able to transmit on this website with an article that will be well sourced and well packaged in terms of history, culture, architecture or aesthetics. I’m talking about all of these articles illustrated by photos where I do not appear.

The photographic exercise weighs more and more on me when it comes to me and when I appear on the pictures. I’ve said it before, I’ve always found this kind of photo shoot highly egotistical. And my uneasiness increases from year to year when I am more and more confronted in public places with women who take 1000 selfies per minute or who take pictures with friends at the same pace or who only go to a museum for the sole purpose of finding an environment that will be a pleasing decorum to their portraits.

I pity the residents of the Parisian Université street which offers a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, because these few square meters are permanently infested by lots of people, often young, often female, who are only there to take selfies and pictures of themselves. This last section of Université street is pedestrian and whether it’s day or night, “instagrammers” (I can’t find another word since the photos land on this social media) pretend to come out of one of the buildings, stand in front of the windows of the residents of the ground floor or loudly ask for a last pic while competing with the other girls – unidentified but nevertheless digital competitors – in this silly race to get the best photo. Breaking news: every single picture will end up in Internet dump and will be forgettable.

I pity the Parisian Pinault museum which – very cinematic – welcomes a staggering number of young women who are only there to take pictures of themselves. The session generally lasts quite a long time and all the poses are tested and proven. We generally talk about suggestive and “sexy” poses, this word that the era loves and that I hate. It disturbs everyone, because everyone wants to walk by, but since everyone is polite, everyone stops so as not to disturb this poor photo shoot (I am not talking about the means and the “camera versus telephone” debate – I’m talking about the poverty of what is transmitted through the pictures) which will painfully give birth, through Photoshop and filters, to a photo just as forgettable as those taken on Université street.

The discomfort grows in me because I no longer see the difference between the ego tarts and me. Although I know that the photos where I appear are intended to support a text that doesn’t concern me (it generally concerns a book, a film or an idea), although I know that the photos where I appear are not there to glorify any “sexiness” that I hate, although I know that the photos will not be retouched or filtered, I become more and more embarrassed about the idea of a photo shoot in a public place.

I enjoy writing – I think everyone understood that. I loved the idea of an Instagram that allowed you to slide texts under photos – a kind of textualized Pinterest – I gladly played the game which allowed, under a visual, to expose two or three written ideas. But since then, Instagram has been invaded by reel videos and it is demotivating for people who enjoy writing.

But don’t worry: this will not prevent me from continuing because I very much want to talk about a thousand films, a thousand books, a thousand ideas.

The other issue of taking photographs concerns Paris as such.

In a previous episode of “The Other Side of the Picture”, you discovered the rats/rabbits of the Parisian Champs de Mars. I’ll spare you the yellow concrete blocks that dot the roads, the vomiting public trash cans, the mattresses on the public floor or the tape that adorns the traffic lights.

Paris has become a trash can, what else can I say.

For this photo session, we therefore have relatively nice pictures because I manage to hide the ashtray AND the public trash can AND the mattress lying on the floor.

And we have other photos where this is not the case. An ashtray, a trash can, a mattress and the charm is… different.

And now a few pictures at the Pinault museum. The building is beautiful, but the art presented left me speechless. The two young women who were taking suggestive photos left me speechless too.

We consciously ruined their photo session, by setting up in their field of vision after ten minutes of discomfort for passers-by who couldn’t walk around, ten minutes of so-called suggestive and ridiculous poses, ten minutes of total disinterest in what surrounded them.

That didn’t stop me from being silly as usual.

On the other hand, I wondered a lot about the culture of mediocrity. This may explain why you won’t read anything about the art presented at the Pinault Foundation.

September 23, 2022