Worlds in Transition.
Photographs by Gilles Perrin.
136 pp., 100 duotone single, diptych and triptych illustrations, 9½x9".
For more than thirty years, Gilles has been taking portraits of men,
women and children whose culture and traditions will soon disappear.
He is only a witness. Through the eyes of the people he photographs,
his work is based on a relationship he establishes with the person. He
believes in an honest approach. Certain of nothing, he watches the
world with great curiosity and seriousness and he records with his
camera. Photography allows one to go beyond appearances. That is
one of its peculiarities.
When taking a photograph he explains what he is doing to the
subject and what he will achieve. The subject must be fully conscious
of the photographic act which he is about to perform and of the
relationship he wants to establish, in order to have an emblematic
image of who they are. He does not steal an instant; he wants to share
it. Dignity is the word. For the last 20 years he has been using instant
Polaroid film with a positive and a negative. This technology allowed
him to instantaneously give his subject an original image to keep for
themselves. It is at the very heart of his philosophy. It is impossible to
cheat. This gift of the picture is part of the verbal contract between
the subject and himself; it is the memory of their meeting and their
Gilles works in black and white for aesthetic reasons, the absence
of colour prevents the eye from fragmenting the image. Transcribing
the colourful elements into shades of grey brings a certain drama to
the scene, a luminous intensity which helps with the theatrical aspect
of the event he photographs.
Perrin likes to take photographs, to have people pose in their
ordinary lives and environment “I want to retain traces of simple
things. Between the Peuls of Niger, the Peruvian peasants, the Surmas
of the Omo valley and the fishermen of Ireland or the Finnish farmers,
I find no differences , Instead I find common features: their cultures
and their traditional ways which are sure to disappear. They will soon
be absorbed by a new developing society based on the need for
absolute and immediate profit and by creating their portraits I can
think of no better way to let them live forever.”
Gilles Perrin positions himself as a documentary photographer, this
means he finds his place in our society in the way he looks at society
and his photographs are the reflection of a socio-economic reality
which he visualises with a critical look. The paradoxes, the
contradictions and the ideology of our capitalistic world do not fool
him, and neither does its suicidal logic. He is also a craftsman, an
author who endeavours to seize the intimate nature of people and
tells a story about them, about the world which surrounds him.