Presentation

Once Upon the River Love


The dark waters of Amur, or as it is called in China, Black Dragon River, meander through over 4400 kilometers – from the Mongolian steppe to the Strait of Tartary facing the Sakhalin Island. 13 kilometers wide at the end of its course, this river is a giant of the Far East. And yet, we still dream about Amur more than really know it. Few people have seen, described or photographed it. The inhabitants of its banks, descendants of the first Siberians, do not populate the Western imagination as native Americans – their close cousins in many respects – do.
    Nanai, Ulch and Udege peoples, among many others, bear the brunt of successive conquests and assimilations – from the arrival of the Cossacks to the advent of contemporary capitalism. Today they are struggling, as much as they can, against the disappearance of their traditions and way of living. The photographs of Claudine Doury tell us their distinct but at the same time so ordinary story. These pictures taken from the beginning of the 1990s until the summer 2018 during her trips to the towns and the villages of Nergen, Us-Gur, Bulava, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk or Blagoveshchensk, carry us to the adventures of Dersu Uzala, Anton Chekhov’s novels or contemporary fiction of Andreï Makine. At times, they invoke the eccentric tales of Joseph Delteil: «She was born at night in a yellow hut on the banks of Amur... The village is full of sheep bleating. Each house perfumes its beams with a greasy cooking smell. The river lined with white trees carries a very soft silt. The Arctic foxes leaped over the wall. Calm snow falling on Siberia.»1
    Strictly avoiding exoticism, the photographer has an evident admiration for these mixed-race faces and their country seeming to come from another world and another time. She pays tribute to the delicacy of a face, a gesture or an atmosphere, as well as to the power of the surrounding nature. Now as before, they are seized in their absolute banality, at work, at celebrations, all together, or caught up in their loneliness and isolation. Their regular waiting and idleness are striking just as the gracefulness of their lives.
    Just like Amur River, Claudine Doury’s Siberian artwork made over a period of almost thirty years, constitutes a set of historical, temporal and physical residues. By looking at the pictures, the attentive traveler’s / spectator’s eye might recognize a landscape, the woman or the man growing older, the child falling into the world of adolescence. But it will be especially struck by a sense of familiarity. Nothing has changed nor moved. With great subtlety, Claudine Doury shows her empathic fascination with these peoples in continuous transition. Her photos embody the idea of loss but also of what persists, despite everything.


Julie Jones

Art historian and curator, Julie Jones is an associate curator at the Musée national d’art moderne - Centre Pompidou, Paris.


1 : Joseph Delteil, Sur le Fleuve Amour (1922), Œuvres complètes (Grasset), pages 22-23

Agenda

21.02.2017

Signature by Claudine Doury of her catalog "L'Homme nouveau", Filigranes edition

10.12.2016 - 11.12.2016

Biography

Born in 1959. Lives and works in Paris.

She received the Leica Oscar Barnack Award in 1999, the World Press in 2000 (series "Peuples de Sibérie") and the Niépce Prize for her entire work in 2004. 


SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2018

- "Le long du fleuve Amour", La Galerie Particulière, Paris.

- "Une odyssée sibérienne", exhibition of the photography prize Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière 2017, in partnership with the Académie des beaux-arts, Palais de l'Institut de France, Paris.

- "Adolescences", Festival du regard, Le Carreau, Cergy-Pontoise.

 

2016
- "L'Homme Nouveau", La Galerie Particulière, Brussels, Belgium.
- "L'Homme Nouveau", La Galerie Particulière, Paris.

2015

- "Sasha, Loulan Beauty, Artek", Galerie Domus, Villeurbanne.

 

2014

- "Loulan Beauty" and "Artek", Espace Saint Cyprien, Toulouse.
- "Sasha", Galerie Dityvon, Angers.
- "Peuples de Sibérie", Bibliothèque de Bobigny.

- "Loulan Beauty", galerie Confluence, Nantes.

- "Sasha et rites de passage", galerie Arkea, Le Relecq-Kerhuon.

 

2013

- "Peuples de Sibérie", Palais Jacques Coeur, Bourges.


2012

- "Sasha", La Galerie Particulière, Paris.  
- "Sasha", Galerie Box, Brussels, Belgium.
- "Sasha", Galerie Confluence, Nantes.


2011-2012

- Pavillon Carré de Baudoin, Paris.

2010

- La Fabrique du Pont d'Aleyrac, Saint-Pierreville.
- Théâtre de Brétigny-sur-Orge.


2009

- Dali Photo Festival, Dali, China.
- Galerie du Centre Culturel Joseph Kessel, Villepinte.

2008

- Breda Photo, Breda's museum, Netherlands.


2007

- Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris.


2006

- Médiathèque, Saint-Étienne.


2005

- Médiathèque, Noisy-le-Sec.

 
2004

- Picto Bastille, Paris.

 
2002

- Galerie du Théatre de la Passerelle, Gap.
- Centre culturel, Le Mans.


2001

- Hôtel de ville, Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône.


2000

- Festival Étonnants Voyageurs, Saint-Malo.
- Parc de la Villette, Pavillon Paul Delouvrier, Paris.

 

1999

- Musée Arctique de Rovaniemi, Finland.



COLLECTIVE EXHIBITIONS

2018

- "Jeunes Générations - Série 1er Acte", La Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille.

 

2016

- Photo London, booth La Galerie Particulière, London, United Kingdom.

 

2015

- "Loulan Beauty", Sifest, Savignano, Italia.

- "Traversée, d'enfance à adolescence", Bibliothèque départementale des Bouches-du-Rhône, Marseille.

- "Intérieur d'ailleurs - Intimités sociales", Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Grasse.

 

2014

- Paris Photo Los Angeles, La Galerie Particulière, Los Angeles, USA.
- Art Rotterdam, La Galerie Particulière, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
- Art Paris, La Galerie Particulière, Paris.


2013

- Passages, Forum Meyrin, Geneva, Switzerland.
- Pulse Miami Art Fair, Miami, USA.

2012

- "Sasha", Pulse Miami Art Fair, Miami, USA.
- "Sasha", Les Photaumnales, Beauvais.
- "Passages", La petite biennale de la photographie, Blain.
- "Vues en ville II", Art Library, La Roche-sur-Yon.
- "L'art de voir les choses", Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris.
- Art Paris, Art Fair, Paris.


2011

- Paris Photo, Le Grand Palais, Paris.
- "Vu à Paris", Institut Culturel Français, Rabat, Morocco.


2010

- Paris Photo, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
- Nominated Niépce Award, Musée du Montparnasse, Paris.


2009

- "C'est l'été", Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris.
- "80+80", Photo-Graphisme, Pavillon Carré de Baudoin, Paris.
- "Kreyol Factory", Parc de la Villette, Paris.


2008

- "France Kunst Art Be. / Réfléchir le monde", Centrale électrique, Brussels, Belgium.
- Agnès b. photographs collection, C/O Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
- "Woman of many faces/Isabelle Huppert", Galerie du Manège, Moscow, Russia.


2007

- Paris Photo, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
- "Woman of many faces / Isabelle Huppert", Fotomuseum, Den Haag, Netherlands.


2006

- Rencontres internationales de la photographie, Arles.
- "VU' 80-80. Les 20 ans de VU'", VU' la Galerie, Paris.
- "Woman of many faces/Isabelle Huppert", P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, USA.
- "VU' à Paris", Chapelle de la Salpêtrière, Paris.

2005

- Galerie l'Imagerie, Lannion.
- "Alguien nos mira", selection in the Fnac collection, Muvim, Valencia, Spain.


2004

- "Agnès b. photographs collection", Les Abattoirs, musée d'art contemporain, Toulouse.
- "Fnac Photographs Collection", La Conciergerie, Paris.


2001

- Encontros de Imagem, Photo Festival, Braga, Portugal.


2000

- Center of photography, Lectoure.



FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS

2018

- Photography Prize Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière in partnership with the Académie des beaux-arts.

 

2004

- Niépce Prize.
- Yann Arthus Bertrand Award.


2000

- World Press Photo Award, Amsterdam, Netherlands, category "Nature and environment stories".


1999

- Leica Oscar Barnack Award.


1997

- Fiacre, Ministery of Culture, France.


1996

- Villa Médicis outside the walls, Italia.


COLLECTIONS

- Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris, France.
- L'Imagerie, Lannion, France.
- Encontros da imagem, Braga, Portugal.
- Artothèque, La Rochelle, France.
- Agnès B., Paris, France.
- Le Théâtre de la Passerelle, Gap, France.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

- L'Homme nouveau, Éditions Filigranes, 2016 - Text Dominique Baqué.
- Sasha, Le Caillou Bleu, 2011 - Texts Christian Caujolle and Melanie McWhorter.
- Loulan Beauty, Éditions du Chêne, 2007.
- Artek, un été en Crimée, Éditions de la Martinière, 2004.
- Peuples de Sibérie, Éditions du Seuil, 1999.

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Texts

Until I was 17 years of age, I lived in a small town in the American South. At 16, I decided to be baptized in a country church of the Southern Baptist denomination. It was not as romantic as the event might sound the scene of the beloved brothern standing knee deep in the silty brownish-red river donning their Sunday best with the minister preaching his religious oratory in a booming voice, the crowd wailing a chorus of amens and breaking out spontaneously into hymn. After hymn that was nowhere to be found. My baptism was much more formal, taking place in a sterile bathtub-sized tank which was usually hidden behind a screen decorated with a bucolic scene of rolling hills and a fading sunset, rendered in a palate of pastel blues, greens and purples. I imagined the entire congregation craning their necks upwards to watch with the exception of the elderly parishioners sleeping in the pews; those gray and wrinkled heads hung like sagging heirloom tomatoes on the vine. Those who remained awake watched through a window just above the altar as I gave my soul to the Lord. I stood limply in my white dress with long, wavy red hair ready for the minister, a portly, pale skinned Southern gentleman, to dunk me in the water. I felt light and soulless for only a second or two; then, he forcefully pulled me back into the material world. I was born again, so to speak. Now, I look back on a life not entirely fulfilled with the promises of that day and realize that not having any familial initiation ceremonies, this arbitrary decision at the age of sixteen might have been my own self-instituted rite of passage. Crossing the water was only one arbitrary milestone, but many other experiences dot my memory, some monumental, but most banal. Through all this, I was coming of age.


The advent of womanhood is unavoidable whether the ceremonies surrounding this conversion are the same or not; if the girl makes it through adolescence, the woman is inevitable. Sasha, one such young woman, is undergoing a rapid transition. Her mother, photographer Claudine Doury, watches through the camera and we are all witness to what Doury selectively chronicles: the adventures of the child, not so young, but close to the completion of her childish follies. In this first chapter, the forest surrounds Sasha and her cohorts from the late summer into the fall of the year, from green to brown, from alive to dying.


Turn one page to find Sasha covered in white powder or adorned with a simple white dress or surrounded by the pure, virgin snowfall. White is purity. White is sacrifice. Images of water give pause: Sasha appears once up to her knees, then to her neck and, later, following in a single file line of two into the murky water reminiscent of the aforementioned baptism scene. Water normally cleanses the palette for the taste buds, but this time offers respite for the eyes. Sasha's signs, or Doury's (or my own imposed interpretations), are conflicting or indefinable: snow possibly being truth or rigidity; smoke, transition or blindness; water, purity, life-giving or life-taking; birds as messengers of knowledge or portent of ill. Through thousands of years of human history, these colors have become symbolic; these animals, metaphorical; and, ultimately, these pictures, allegorical.


The second chapter takes us out of the open organic environment into the sterile human created interior of the home where the pace is much faster and life more stressful. We are sucked along with Sasha into the bell jar inside the delicate, clear glass where the exterior world is "blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream," as Sylvia Plath wrote. Oddly, Sasha rests inside with her eyes closed; an uncomfortable rejection of the adult world or refusal to see what is coming? In a stark contrast to the light-natured descriptors of childhood (and the first section): purity, innocence, exploration, truth; Sasha is now experiencing self-examination, powerlessness, confinement, sacrifice, and sadness: the struggles of transition. Doury's child often finds herself alone and trapped or confined, in the closet, in the bed by clear plastic wrap or under the burden of a much younger child. The weight is bearable, but clearly she is physically and mentally encumbered.


The reflective surface, like that of the water, appears, but dreadfully. Sasha may attempt to divine her future in the mirror as she pulls off a translucent, distorting, age-defying facial mask or upon the surface of the shiny orbs. Her blond Samson's locks are removed and contained in a box. A chorus of religious and Jungian iconography finishes with the close cropped Pieta, the child resting almost lifelessly in the lap of a young friend glazed by the Rembrandtesque light of the fading day. She is seeking comfort and safety in the young female arms.


In the final short chapter of this book, there is lightness possibly in opposition to darkness, though it is not without burden. We find Sasha back in nature. She has come outside of the house and of herself. She spins, runs, plays. Like most girls before her, she has passed through adolescence into adulthood unscathed. Finally, Sasha has emerged, not alone, but with the first male figure in this narrative. We watch them from behind both blindly running into the smoke and expanding forest beyond. The story has not ended, but this chapter is closed for Sasha and her mother.


Vermeer's subject in The Girl with the Pearl Earring is a young girl whose identity is speculated upon by many but truly known by no one; Lawrence Weschler notes that none of Vermeer's female subjects should be read as archetypes: "If she is standing in for anything, she is standing in for the condition of being a unique individual human being, worthy of our own unique individual response." We will look upon Sasha in judgment trying to discern our own meaning from the images, but we can not define all that Sasha is or, for that matter, all that her generation is from this one sequence of images. She can represent no one but herself. From one event at sixteen, I could not have predicted a life for myself devoid of overtly pious endeavors. That was one event, like geological layer seen on the side of the mountain, a bygone ceremony covered by the sediment of many memories. We are formed by events we cannot predict and sometimes cannot control. We can look upon Sasha in the narrow constructed window we have on her life, but we cannot foresee her future self. The book holds her in the perpetual state of now, and here forever, she will be holding her breath, being dunked in the lukewarm water, losing her breath and her being momentarily, only to find herself ready for a new life, her own life.



Melanie McWhorter

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