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Cape Cod. July 4th, 1947
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USA. Massachusetts. Cape Cod. July 4th, 1947. Independence Day. © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

“This woman explained to me that the flagpole over her door was broken but ‘on such a day as this, one keeps one’s flag on one’s heart.’ I felt in her a touch of the strength and robustness of the early American pioneers.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Ecoutez voir Hervé Guibert

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Comment rendre hommage à un écrivain qui fut aussi photographe : par le texte ou par l’image ? Par la voix. Ainsi en a décidé Vincent Josse, journaliste culturel à France-Inter, admirateur d’Hervé Guibert qu’il n’a pas connu. Son Hervé Guibert, l’écrivain-photographe (1 CD de 54 minutes, 25 euros, naïve), est une merveille de délicatesse dans l’empathie. Les jurés de l’Académie Charles-Cros ne s’y sont pas trompés qui viennent de distinguer ce “projet sonore”, ainsi qu’il se présente. Il s’agit d’une mise en ondes d’extraits de certains de ses livres, Suzanne et Louise, L’image fantôme, Le protocole compassionnel, La photo, inéluctablement, Le seul visage, lus par Juliette Gréco, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Anouk Grimberg et Cyrille Thouvenin, sur une musique originale de Dominique A. Si ces livres sont connus et facilement accessibles, les entretiens de l’écrivain avec Roger Vrigny ou Gérard-Julien Salvy le sont moins, pour ne rien dire des quelques feuillets inédits conservés dans ses archives à l’Imec, sur le début de biographie qu’il aurait voulu consacrer à Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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Photo de Martine Franck/Magnum

A l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie (Poche) de Hervé Guibert

A life in cinema: Abbas Kiarostami

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Warmly courteous behind his trademark dark glasses, he apologises for being preoccupied with rehearsing Juliette Binoche next door. Certified Copy, to be shot in Tuscany this month in French and English, will be his first feature to be filmed outside Iran. On the walls of MK2, the French company that co-produces his films, is some of his photographic work of zig-zag roads and snow-covered landscapes. (His visa problem meant he also missed the opening of an exhibition of his photography last month at the Purdy Hicks Gallery in London’s Bankside.)

He developed an interest in photography in the 1970s from scouting for locations in the Iranian countryside, but has exhibited his work only since the 1990s; its global sales have helped to subsidise his films. “I film normal-life subjects in natural settings that some people would consider uncinematic. But what I want to show is nature itself, as the truth of life.” He avoids human figures in his photography, and considers it a “purer” medium than cinema. “The moment of the picture is one of personal truth, not of a story. I feel something in a landscape and want to capture it; only that moment is shown.”

Also a screenwriter and poet, Kiarostami has in recent years made video installations such as Sleepers, of two sleeping lovers, for the Venice Biennale in 2001, and Forest of Leaves (2005) at the V&A. For him, art can reframe even the trivial details of life, spurring us to take a fresh look at them. Films such as Close-Up (1990), which dramatised the case of an unemployed print worker arrested for passing himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makmalbaf, blur the line between fiction and documentary. His frequent intrusion of the filmmaking process forces viewers to question the boundaries between reality and representation, truth and fabrication, life and art.

His most recent film, Shirin, will be screened at the Edinburgh film festival on 19 June, with a UK-wide release a week later. A bold experiment, it is 90 minutes of close-ups of more than 100 women – including a headscarved Binoche – as they watch a film based on a 12th-century poem by Nezami Ganjavi about a love triangle involving an Armenian princess and a Persian prince. Light from a screen flickers on the women’s faces; their expressions alone create the drama.

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Coup de cœur: Kiarostami on Digital Camera (Voice-over in English)

Bildbauten

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The series of images with the title “Bildbauten” deals with the effect and the claim to credibility of images of architecture that appear to be photographs. It further questions the medium “photograph” as a documentary piece of evidence depicting reality.

Impression du Jour: Shirin Neshat (Iran)

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From an exhibition at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, March 2008

Recently, I saw an exhibition by Shirin Neshat at the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont where we can see two amazing new color cinematographic videos entitled Munis and Faezeh, these two videos were of an enigmatic beauty rare in contemporary art today. Those of you who saw her work at MAM may remember how most of her videos were black and white, youtube her here if you want to catch a few reminders, but these new color films are color corrected in such a fine and delicate way that I was surprised and immersed in it… like a boy with cartoons… The colors were soft pastels colors. The subject matter of the two videos are based on Women Without Men, a novel by the Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipu depicting the perception of a young Iranian woman during the summer of 1953 in Iran’s political unrest and a psychological breakdown of a Muslim woman following a sexual assault. The two videos are stuning and remain in my mind even a few days later. I recommend you try to see this recent works when it comes to your town.

Behind the Scenes: A New Angle on History

A previously unpublished photograph of Changan Avenue in Beijing (June 5, 1989) at the New York Times extraordinary LENS blog:

Terril Jones had only shown the photograph to friends.

While working as a reporter in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he shot many photographs and recorded several hours of video. It wasn’t until weeks afterwards, when he had returned to Japan, that he discovered the magnitude of what he had captured — an iconic moment in history from an entirely unique angle.

His version of the tank man has never been published until now.