Out of Place Portraits / Meyer


In 2005 and 2007, during the Festival of African Photography in Bamako, more than 3000 “Out of Place Portraits” (“Portraits Décalés”) were taken. Each day, in a different part of town, the local inhabitants would choose a background from a catalogue of images selected from the archives of Tendance Floue, the collective of photographers from Montreuil, France. And then a picture was taken of each volunteering person inside the itinerant digital studio which had been set up for taking portraits. Then in the evenings, at nightfall, dozens of photomontages in which these portraits had been superimposed onto fake backgrounds were projected onto a screen of the Malian CNA, in the very heart of the neighbourhood.


These “Out of Place Portraits” have a precedent: they have a direct link with the African photographic culture of neighbourhood studios where locals have their pictures taken in front of a blown-up photograph of a landscape or a painted background. But this series of “Out of Place Portraits” was not meant to engage with a social or identitarian representation of neighbourhood portraiture. Meyer simply wanted to invite people on a journey. So these photomontages are not about one’s image but about one’s free imagination. In this country journeys are often laden with sorrowful meanings and complications. Those who embark on a journey know that the separations and sacrifices they will have to endure will shatter their lives. Right here, however, all that matters is one’s immediate and unbridled desire, which is only too intimate and instinctive to describe. Why did this woman choose Sicily? Why did this boy choose to pose in front of a CRS² roadblock? Why did this person choose the highlands of Nepal? And this one a street in Beijing? People tune in to their heart’s desire. The first contact between these people and the worlds they have chosen can be happy or serious, cheeky or else solemn: it is the playful materialisation of a wish.
The discrepancy in each picture becomes a source of poetry. There is something indefinable in the simple, direct and frontal composition of these photographs. They contain traces of each person’s potential creativity. Photography is providing the people of these “Out of Place Portraits” with the means to tell us a story. Furthermore, their flights of imagination somewhat engrain this artistic adventure within the political sphere.These pictures are based on an ambiguity which is no trickery. Meyer is not offering an impossible journey or a kind of inaccessible dream: these “Out of Place Portraits” are a voyage in themselves. As improbable as they are real, these portraits take us on a wonderful photographic journey.


Exhibitions :
2011 – Hôtel de Sauroy, Paris / France
2010 – Festival Les Tombées de la Nuit, Rennes / France
2008 – Montreuil / France
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This exhibition includes a serie of 280 photomontage distributed on 14 supports on dibon format 100x120 cm