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A Self Portrait of the XXth Century.

Edited by Jean-Marie Donat. Contributions by Marie José Mondzain, Luc Sante, Richard Vine, and Richard Vine.
INNOCENCES, 2020. 304 pp., 9x11¼".

Publisher's Description

This book gathers around sixty photo series made up of more than 500 anonymous vernacular photographs. This photographic corpus is built by collector Jean-Marie Donat around of idea of giving a peculiar vision of the 20th century.

'Jean-Marie Donat is a typologist of the snapshot, infused with the vigor of an eighteenth-century encyclopedist venturing into unknown territory, determined to catalog its bewildering profusion of languages or religions or species of click beetle. By now dozens if not hundreds of collections of snapshots have been published by others, some fascinating and some apparently haphazard, but all of them resting uneasily on the premise of their collectors' subjective scale of values.


What they all have in common is that they represent photographic phenomena that recur, not in the literature but in those bins, tubs, crates of the postmortem economy.


The great range of topics, procedures, effects, conventions, and experiences to which he is alert causes him to slice through the whole century of popular everyday photographic practice, revealing a cross-section teeming with life. All of these photos are vigorous, despite being several times removed from the life of their conception, and their vigor will not allow a dry, logical order to be imposed on them. And once they have been united under the sign of their common pattern they are many times stronger than they would be in isolation.


Cumulatively, they demonstrate that popular photography is a cluster of ritualistic practices, generally transparent in their sociological and psychological meaning, to which their photographers and subjects submit as if they had always existed.' — Luc Sante

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