Pierre Richard and his wife Renée
The namesakes from Rennes
It was my first project. It dates back from 1995. It actually paves the way to the projects that will follow.
I contacted all the namesakes of celebrities that I found in the Rennes White Pages and I asked them if they agreed to be photographed as namesakes. Three of them accepted: Pierre Richard, Jacques Martin and Cécile Briand (the least famous). I went to their homes and I shot their portraits. They told me many things about their lives. I also spent a long time with Jacques Martin.
In order for them to authorize me to appear here and in the book, I tried to find them 20 years later. The student called Cécile Briand that I met is now the mother of three kids. She didn’t remember me, but she remembered the picture I took. I didn’t find Jacques Martin. Actually, Mrs. Richard told me he died a few years before. Her husband knew him. Mr. and Mrs. Richard were still living at the same address. The first time I talked to Renée Richard, she told me she was extremely ill, she had multiple myeloma, a rare disease affecting the bones (called the Kahler disease). We kept good memories of our first meeting and we went on writing to each other by email. We became friends. We saw each other again at their place, with Benoît and the girls, the two Christmas that followed. On the third Christmas, I went to visit Mr. Richard at the hospital. I didn’t see Mrs. Richard but I talked to her on the phone. Pierre Richard was born on the exact same day (the same month of the same year) as Pierre Richard. Our encounter and our reunion is a beautiful story.
99 ads to find a place to live
Twice I had to fight to find a place to live. So I decided to have a little bit of fun while doing so.
The first time, I had to leave my first flat in the 17th arrondissement and I wanted to live in the east of Paris. I created nine templates of ads and printed them 10 times each, to hand them at strategic points in the areas that I targeted: bakeries, notice boards, phone booths...
The photo-novel page is part of this project. The rebus riddle too. They date back from 1998.
After nine years spent in Mûriers street, I had to look again for a new flat. Most of my demands were more formal: I wrote letters to various people in charge of politics about different subjects (“offering a bribe “, “going straight to the point”, “ playing with one’s feelings”...). It didn’t work very well. Actually, I met the daughter of my future landlord through one of my ads in the shape of a man (one had to pull out the arm or the leg to take my phone number).
Looking for a flat photo-novel
Looking for a flat rebus riddle
I sowed one’s wild oats with my hen.
I created it while I was doing Among Others, the project I created with Emily Mast in 2004. It was the image I found to illustrate the title “Not yesterday, nor tomorrow”. It was made using Magritte’s “Not to be Reproduced” I used the same setting, but I reversed it symmetrically. The man who sees his back in the mirror became the hen who sees itself as an egg.
I like my hen so much that I printed it on postcards.
I also made fake stamps (with wavy rims) and I stuck several of them on letters I sent to friends. They all received their letters. My hen is nuts.
The last project I did with my hen was to put one of the postcards among the other Magritte’s postcards, at the end of the exhibition dedicated to him in Beaubourg in 2016. I watched people take it, turn it over and put it back. But twice clients went to the counter to buy it. You can read excerpts of the report of this experiment when I talk about about All my precious time.
I’m still not finished with my hen.
The head in the hole cutout
Isabelle Mayaud has been my artistic partner for several years. With her I organized the Tug of war, Last calls, Hello, Chalk, Christmas at the Folies, the Pink Library; projects that called for passers by, friends, clients of the Folies (a famous bar in Belleville) to participate. I talk about all those experiments in All my precious time. They may not be personal enough for me to talk about them here. They are more happier moments shared with Isabelle (and all the participants) than objects liked for what they are.
The Pink Library was set inside the Folies bar, in the old phone booth. Previously, we had organized the Last Calls there in 2005 (if you had only 3 calls left, who would you call, what would you tell the people you call?). This library was filled with many books from the Harlequin collection. They were a gift. We offered people we knew and clients of the bar to do something with these books. Edouard Levé took part in this project; his participation is included in the Pink Library Catalogue (less than 20 copies were printed). 78 works of art are shown there. The Pink Library was part, in 2008, of the program of the Belleville’s Art studios open house; that year the theme was Temptation. This head in the hole cutout was made from an actual Harlequin cover and put in the Folies bar for the clients to participate. I was happy to turn this man’s head.
The dot – annex
It took me a long time for me to answer to the theme “the dot” suggested by François Simon. (See the project Letters to Julien, François and Martin.) The most serious research path, apart from the one that led to taking the picture of a black dot on a white page, was that of the diptychs.
I took a picture of a famous person when he or she was a child and I put the enlarged picture of his or her grown-up eye next to it.
That is what I did for the three following celebrities. I really like Gabin’s face as a child: he looks so serious (and old), already. I like his grown-up enlarged eye picture: half-man, half-woman, half-sexy, half-flabby.
Love bank statements
There are many ways to play with administrative procedures. People wrongly think they are rigid. Therefore, when I do my monthly money transfer to my lover, to share the domestic expenses, nothing keeps me from writing a personal comment along with it. The only difficulty I find is to write what I want without using accents, commas or apostrophes.