BRUNO HADJIH : AN INTERVIEW WITH A POST-SCRIPT BY ROLF SACHSSE
RS: What would you consider as the most important influences on your photography? What are your opinions on your landscape photography?
My photography was mainly nourished by what we call humanist photographers. Especially Eugene Smith, for his commitment and narrative approach in his work “Minamata”.
This work makes the whole world aware of the damage caused by others, in this case “industrial capitalism” on the environment and first and foremost on “Man”.
As a second reference, I would cite Robert Frank in his book “The Americans”, an enormous sum of work, in terms of the journey and the number of themes addressed. He is not, in the true sense of the word, a protocol photographer, he is also a filmmaker, with an experimental vocabulary. At the same time, he is a “nomadic” artist, as Deleuze defined the Saharan constructed space for the city. These two people have guided me in my commitment and reflection, and in the attitude to have in all circumstances.
My landscape photographs are not, strictly speaking, landscapes. They do not enter the lexicon, as defined in Larousse, or Wikipedia. These landscapes are what we can call political landscapes, in view of their respective histories. Just as the police use the ‘anthropometric’ portrait for their files, so do these places. They are political because they are named and designated precisely by topographical surveys. They are given a date of birth by means of an event. This event is linked to a nuclear accident. This accident immediately made them singular. This singularity made them places of confinement. They escape from the common representation of the landscape. The reading of this work is consubstantial with the event.
What brought you to think about diptychs? The center of a diptych is the diving line between the two parts – an empty space, even if seen as thin as possible. Any intention with this choice? Is emptyness (not the forbidden land) a part of your concept?
In the definition, a dyptic is composed of two parts that can close on each other. In this case, it is the possibility of closing on the other that guided me in the representation of the event. How to make one, when there are two. Is there a hierarchy between the portrait and the unnamed landscape? Between an unnamed landscape irradiated, and a character irradiated by this unnamed landscape, there is a community of fate. The plunge line between the two parts is not an apparent void, but an essential dialogue between these two parts.
What are the basic implications of the film you will present in the exhibition? What is the function of the thin black lines? What does the pulsar type red field in the last scene mean?
The film is built around a known story, that of an uncontained nuclear bomb, which irradiated a whole region, landscapes, inhabitants, etc. One can be satisfied with a basic, factual narration, or else engage another form of narration. To erase the time of history, and to enter into the actuality of history. Through work on the image and sound, I tried to restore the day of the explosion. To do a work of archaeology, of excavation. To do as if the discovery of a witness, who had filmed the day of the explosion, had given me all of his material, to bear witness to it. To age the image, to alter it, almost to deconstruct it technically, to make it more modern, more current. The pulsar is the radiant heart of this ensemble.
In his answers, Bruno Hadjih refers to two photographers who committed themselves to a life-long engagement in the humanities: W.Eugene Smith by displaying the tragedies of industrial catastrophies as man-made, and Robert Frank by showing the melancholy of everyday life in the center of the capitalistic world. By pointing out that Frank’s life could be seen as nomadic, Bruno Hadjih returns to his own existence in emigration and its implications for his art. This does not only include Deleuze’s Sahara as a landscape of dreams – as it may be seen in Raymond Depardon’s film ‘Un homme sans l’occident’ – but several forms of nomadic life and its traditions that may have influenced Hadjih’s photography on a subconscious level. His photographs can be read like carpets, from the ground up, and his diptychs can be seen as precious gifts that were designed to be carried around. The work shown in the exhibition thus culminates in the film displayed as there will be no more nomadic life after a nuclear bomb attac; and there is no difference between a colonial attac or an uncontained test by the same government. The refinement of this film’s production – aging the images, adding traces of deconstruction – comes close to the perfection of the photographic works: Bruno Hadjih truely reloads the tragedy of his environment, and he makes us aware of our own coming tragedies – with the means of his art.
“Between an unnamed landscape irradiated, and a character irradiated by this unnamed landscape, there is a community of fate.”