JURY'S CHOICE

 

Laurence Leblanc

Born, lives, and works in Paris

 

www.laurenceleblanc.fr

 

Laurence Leblanc is represented by:

 

Galerie VU’, Paris

01 53 01 85 89

gaychet@abvent.fr

gilou@abvent.fr

 

 

“Winner of the 2003 HSBC Foundation prize, Laurence Leblanc has continued in quiet solitude a work that is taking a lasting place in the field of contemporary photography. She is careful not to dissipate her curiosity or her interests by multiplying shots and approaches. While she publishes, shows, and distributes her work regularly, Laurence Leblanc makes a faithful ally of the time for observation and gestation.” (Benoît Rivero/Actes Sud)

 

 

In 2009, Laurence Leblanc showed work made primarily on the African continent, entitled “Seul l’air” (Only the Air), during the 40th Rencontres d’Arles, in France. A book of this work was also published.

Her photographs are in many private collections as well as in the French Fonds national d’art contemporain.

 

 

Returning the possible

 

“Giving – and receiving – must be seen as a natural exchange, something that simply happens.” - Jean de La Bruyère

 

La Bruyère’s words are perfectly simple. They speak to an Other, to a face to face encounter, evoking the basis of human relations: exchange.

From my very earliest investigations, the relationship to the other has been at the center of my photographic practice. “Facing” signifies taking time, stopping, not being afraid of my doubts, trying to get past the surface of things, and communicating my impression of the world with my own words while challenging stereotypes.

Whether it was my first work on childhood, or with nuns in Cambodia, I have always approached the Other by trying to question the constant pain of this world. Similarly, in the book “Seul l’air”, I questioned what we call Africa, trying to show each place I journeyed through in a unique way. The photographic act is always built by a gradual permeation of the subject and its environment with a sort of restraint. In addition, I devote special attention to the resulting proof, because it is the culmination of that ongoing discussion I have with myself. A need to feel, to think, and to say.

 

In 2006, my project “Objets perdus” conjured up speed and the existence of objects, tools of production, that had had a very real history, and that disappeared “from one day to the next, without leaving a forwarding address”, sometimes leaving us distraught. Those objects questioned memory, traces, the disappearance of a certain exchange between the generations.

 

Exchange is at the heart of this new work. What is the nature of our exchanges? In our professional lives, our family circles, our personal relationships, in the small history as well as the grand history of this new century.

How do we position ourselves in the face of the circulation of goods, the incessant flow of information, the passing of time, the frenzy of “I give and I take away”.

The fifteen photographs I am presenting mutedly evoke that series of questions that haunt me and obsess me every day.

 

What is an outstretched hand? Do I have a duty to respond? Can I still give without waiting for something in return? Does desire inevitably make one want to possess? Must we protect ourselves from others? Will we be able to speak in the future without belonging to a network?

Has La Bruyère’s “natural exchange” completely – or almost completely – disappeared? Will we be able to protect our identity?

 

My photographs don’t provide any answers; they suggest a dialogue. A dialogue that doesn’t necessarily come naturally. One person speaks, another person answers, it’s like an initial boost that sometimes requires argumentation.

My photographs don’t provide any answers; they call for attention to the other. For listening, for patience. By mixing together, touching each other, holding each other, we enter the essence of being, of the perceptible. And so we reach the ineffable.

 

And I think of words from Emmanuel Lévinas: “The relationship with the Other is a relationship with a mystery... It is his exteriority, or rather his otherness, that constitutes the Other’s entire being.”