Calais, December 1st and 2nd, 2016. The place is empty now, a swampy stretch of sand, somewhere between sky and land, the ground turned over and filthy in places. It had to be cleared out. The wind, the rain will do the rest, inevitably, naturally, like the passage of time, reshaping with delicate ripples of sand the crevasses left by bulldozers, the ground torn open by excavators and acts of violence. In the solitude and the silence following the destruction, one last time, the powerful appearance of reality springs upon this ground haunted by the presence of so many, which has suddenly shift- ed to absence. In that very mo- ment, a moment of both grace and terror, Laurent Malone photographs. He photographs like one gathers, like one gathers oneself. We can picture him leaning towards these objects on the ground like you would lean towards a sick person. He photographs like one rescues. Yet his gesture doesn’t save, nor does it claim do. He comes after the fact. His photographs revive with great precision the indiscernible memory that hides in the folds of clothes left behind or in a torn-up book. His gesture has the dark lyricism of homage and the rigor of a report. He commemorates and documents at the same time. He calls upon witnesses. Systematically, methodically, and implicitly tells a story. It is a wordless recitative, a silent report and a prayer. The photographer enumerates, makes a list of the objects present that are as many signs of absence. Every photographer is a collector, said Walker Evans. Walter Benjamin, more political, adds: every photograph is evidence to a crime.
Born in 1948 in Lyon, Laurent Malone lives and works in Paris. Photographer, he carries out a work of analysis and documentation of the mutations of the urban space from courses traced in the cities. The cities are the place of a balance of power between the rationality embodied by architecture and the uses of the inhabitants who invent “ruses” and “ways of doing with” to reclaim the space. The most common of these arts to make “the march”, by the free arrangement of the elements of the geometric space of the cities crossed in a course, transforms the imposed order into a lived space. These observations of the public space constantly bring back the urban architecture to the scale of human occupation, thus allowing a necessary mutation of the gaze on the phenomena, of exclu.