André Mérian

How does one go about making “images” of a historic situation as present in the news as the “Jungle” of Calais? The first time I visited the “Jungle” in Calais in February 2016, at first I was shocked by the liv- ing conditions of the refugees, it was very cold, the kids were running barefoot in the mud. I was scared, yes scared to enter this “new city”, and once I was inside, I met refugees, they were welcoming us in their measly shacks, giving us coffee and tea. For this commission from CNAP/PEROU, I deliberately chose to get away from the “Jungle”, I was uncomfortable because of the presence of the media, the journalists... I applied a work protocol: walking and getting lost in order to document the itineraries of the refugees through the landscape around Calais, starting from the limits of the “Jungle”. I question the notions of border, security, surveillance, the paths used, some of which transformed by the protagonists, as well as the ephemeral traces left in the landscape. Humans are physically absent, as the refugees didn’t want to appear in the photographs, and I respected their will, it’s a form of obliteration and anonymity. This set of images represents a hiking trail of refugees between reality and fiction.

About the artist

Born in 1955, in Le Faouët, André Merian lives and works in Marseille. He come to Marseille in 1987. He knew almost nothing about the Mediterranean horizon, and it ended up changing his worldview radically. After a period of maladjustment and self-questioning, he began to work on Marseille’s coastline, the result if which were blurry, grey pictures and a desire to escape a certain reality. A few years later, he joined the association Sud Image Territoire, which led him to tackle the subject of “a new geography” – the landscape and its territory, its transformation and its evolution, alternated with its human aspect. He remains very sensitive to the issue of the place of people in these spaces. He remains at a distance in his approach of reality in order to convey tension, emptiness, and even loss. For him, photography is a way of thinking, living, and self-questioning.

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Courtesy: the artist and CNAP/PEROU.