JEAN- CHRISTOPHE BÉCHET
Day: March 31th, 2018
Schedule: 09.00 to 17.00
Inscriptions: 20 euros
Megaro Hadjisavva, 2,
Evagorou Avenue, 1097
Tel.: +357 22 66 20 53
Born in 1964 in Marseille, Jean-Christophe Béchet lives and works in Paris since 1990. He studied economics (Aix-en-Provence, 1982-1985), and after that photography (Arles, 1985-1988) before travelling for two years in West Africa (1988-1990).
The individual’s place in the contemporary scenery, urban and natural, are at the center of his preoccupations. At the moment, he continues to work in the big cities of Europe, Asia and America. He has shown his work in many exhibitions and in more than twenty books.
Next March 31st at the Point Centre for Contemporany Art in Nicosia, Cyprus, Bechet will exchange his experience with the participants.
You have a record of more than 20 publications in just 14 years! How important is it to have your work printed? And why?
Indeed, what is most important to me, is to gather a series of photos in a well printed and well edited publication. It is through this process that I discovered photography and why I love this form of art. I am not that interested in that “one” photograph ; I consider photography to be mostly a practice, both literal and musical. I feel more like a writer and a musician (who uses various cameras and various formats as creative instruments) than a painter. Other photographers are closer to painting. I do not really do this. I’m not a photojournalist talking about news and crises either. I try to be a writer who uses the expansion of time and a composer who speaks about the real and the contemporary world. Hence the need for making books, even if, financially speaking, it is neither reasonable nor realistic.
You have had a lot of experience from all the different positions you have held — magazine editor, educator and published photographer. How do you see the future of publishing in this new age and how will it affect all the aforementioned fields, as well as education, the market and the artists themselves?
I have always been a photographer first and I have wanted to share this passion and commitment by holding workshops and writing texts in magazines. I discovered photography with Sebastiao Salgado during an internship in 1984! I like the idea of conveying ideas and I think that by trying to explain to others this passion it also helps someone progress her/his own work. As for the future of photography, or rather in regard to what interests me and helps me earn my living, I must say that I am rather pessimistic … but that would require hours to explain. In any case, photography is a funny field, where there are more and more photographers, and there is less-and-less work and opportunities to do one’s job, that is to say photographs for a public that would be ready to buy …
You have traveled to big American, European and Asian cities. Do you think the stories are now starting to repeat themselves?
As early as the 17th century, a famous French writer said: “everything has been said and we have come too late”. His name was Boileau. So yes, everything has already been done, written, photographed — the whole world is already known, identified, yet we all continue, … musicians, writers, photographers … No doubt because there is a need to do so, but also because reality changes and we must show the world of today, with our own ideas, our culture; I believe that is the number one interest of photography today.
When you look at the work of a photographer for the first time, what are the elements that you focus on?
I’m skeptical of both images which heavily rely on Photoshop and are widely circulated in photography associations and of those which have too conceptual themes and appear among certain artistic circles. I am somewhere in the middle, and a little bit lonely … So, when I discover a photographer for the first time, I tend to be attracted by the visual quality of his/her images and the coherence of his/her style, of a style that does not seek to seduce or please too much, a style that seems “right” in terms of the selected subject. I like to be overwhelmed by the aesthetics and the personality. I also like, and it’s quite particular, that (a photographer) does not follow the current fashion trends in photography and that he/she does not become the representative of a standardized photographic style … There are many photographers who copy the exhibitions that we see in galleries and festivals and who know nothing about the history of photography. I do not think someone can be a “good” photographer without having a great photographic culture. We must get inspired from the past, without copying it, however, in order to speak about the present!
What is the one thing photographers should know if they want to see their work printed?
Three pieces of advice: Stay true to yourself, beware of flatteries that come too fast and be persistent, very persistent, very very persistent … It takes a long time to become an author-photographer, at least 20 years …
You will hold a Preparatory Workshop on 31st March, 2018, at Point Centre for Contemporary Art, in Nicosia, Cyprus. What will the participants gain from this training?
Although it is for a day and this “training” may just be “speed dating”, it is always useful to meet a person “coming from outside” and to have a frank and honest opinion, even if, at that moment, it is sometimes unpleasant… I know how it feels…
TransEurope Photo Project includes 14 countries that for the first time create a European platform dedicated to photography, in order to bring together emerging talents and a network of organisations, experts and artists. Yet you have also worked on this idea with the project “European Puzzle” which you published in 2016 where you created your own puzzle, a mosaic of what it means to be “European” involving 20 countries. What were some of the challenges you encountered? And in what way do you think that the medium of photography may, or may not affect “Europeanity”?
My “European Puzzle” tells the 25-year story of my European life. I made this book as I do not understand anything about Europe anymore, and it has become an ideal that today is strongly disputed. I try to understand the world better by staying active while creating my images. And photography is for me the best way to say things without being dogmatic or too descriptive. Any good photo is an enigma that encourages reflection and dreaming. Today, it is important to place culture back at the center of Europe and to link documentary and politics to culture and poetry. Obviously, this is difficult when simplistic rhetoric works better in a world driven by slogans, social networks and Tweets … I choose to take the risk on complexity and ambiguity because life is like that, and that is a good thing!!