The world according to Didier Ben Lou Lou

The world according to Didier Ben Lou Lou

“It is forbidden to be old” teaches Rabbi Nahman of Braslav. A sentence that Maurice Blanchot commented as follows: “It is forbidden to give up renewing oneself, to stick to an answer that would no longer call into question the question”; a subtle echo to this poem by Louis-René des Forets :

“Let never the voice of the child,

In him not be silent, let her fall

Like a gift from heaven offering

To the withered words the brilliance of his

Laughter, the salt of her tears, her all

Powerful savagery. »

Suspended from the noises of the world, this photographer—because he is a photographer, and also a writer and poet—frames and reframes the world, seeking with his gaze the accuracy of a particular breath where the heart of a woman beats. humanity in search of a beyond time, of a future reconciled with its vocation to bring new and better that can always put us back in motion.

This is particularly the case of the artist whom we have the great pleasure of receiving today in Talmudiques, whose entire work is “stitched from childhood” according to the expression of Witold Gombrovicz, understood as we have just sketched it. .

Suspended from the noises of the world, this photographer—because he is a photographer, and also a writer and poet—frames and reframes the world, seeking with his gaze the accuracy of a particular breath where the heart of a woman beats. humanity in search of a beyond time, of a future reconciled with its vocation to bring new and better that can always put us back in motion.

The guest

Born in Paris, Didier Ben Loulou lives and works in Jerusalem. Winner of the Villa Medici outside the walls, he obtained a grant from the Fiacre, the Ministry of Culture, then was rewarded by the European Association for Jewish Culture, Visual Arts Grant, Paris/London.
He is the author of about twenty books and has been developing for more than thirty five years a singular, unclassifiable body of work, in which the use of color holds a primordial place. And even if we see it little in his work, the Mediterranean holds a central place, being both what connects and separates… History, signs and above all the human being are at the heart of his approach as a photographer.
Didier Ben Loulou’s works are regularly exhibited in Europe and the United States. They are also present in many private and public collections: National Fund for Contemporary Art (Paris), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), European House of Photography (Paris), Museum of Art and History of Judaism (Paris), Museum of Modern Art (Tel Aviv), Microsoft Art collection, Seattle, USA, etc.

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guest books

MEMORY OF LETTERS

Editions of the Round Table

Texts by Catherine Chalier and Betty Rojtman

Memory of letters
Memory of letters

© Radio France
– Editions of the Round Table

In the aftermath of the second Intifada, leaving the tumult of war far behind him, Didier Ben Loulou devoted himself to a new photographic work in old Jewish cemeteries around Jerusalem and in the Galilee. On these arid hills, forgotten stelae, fragments of texts or abandoned books are so many clues to decipher, so many signs inviting us to reflect on all life destined to disappear.

This memory of letters – centuries old – fed the artist’s imagination. Here, the Hebrew letter has maintained a silent relationship with the Judean desert since the dawn of time. Surveying the places where the prophets of the Bible lived, Didier Ben Loulou produced a set of masterful photographs; imbued with poetry and patience, they attempt to show us the invisible.

This book is the culmination of work on the Hebrew letter that Didier Ben Loulou has been carrying out for more than a decade, mainly photographing old Jewish cemeteries in Galilee and Jerusalem. Two texts – The Great Patience by Catherine Chalier and Rumor of Stones by Betty Rojtman – accompany the images.

This work, which resembles a quest, is that of an artist voluntarily engaged in themes relating to Jewish culture, but also to more universal questions such as those of the portrait, the face, wandering.

JERUSALEM

Panama Editions, Paris, 2008

Jerusalem
Jerusalem

© Radio France
– “The lock child”

By moving to Jerusalem in 1991, Didier Ben Loulou began a photographic project there that would last 15 years.

this resolutely unclassifiable work and far from all the facilities of the time – photo-reportage or cold realism – imposes itself in its depth and its originality as one of the essential keys of this city, jerusalem. microcosm of humanity, point of convergence of the three monotheists, this millennial city and this city of today are for didier ben loulou an original place out of time, closed on its enigma.

Constant tensions, violence, political and religious issues define one of the frameworks of this work.

But what the artist seeks to achieve in the daily life of the city, in its streets, on its walls, in the life of its inhabitants, are the traces, even painful survivals, of the great founding texts. “Sacrifice”, “purity”, “limits”, “frontiers”, “sanctity” determine a real spectrum of reading through which the photographer makes his way through the alleys of the old town, recomposing image after image a kind of geography history that seems to repeat itself.

This book voluntarily does without information, comments, any text, any word, because Jerusalem is delivered there in its complexity, in its ambiguities and its ambivalences, without outside guide. Also the author wanted this city to resonate in us with a single echo, diffracted in more than a hundred images, and that it be the only one to speak.

Didier Ben Loulou gives us here the testimony of an inner experience where each image is an event, a moment of grace, a vision, a dazzling aiming to re-enchant reality in a lucid way. This book is an invitation to think better about a whole section of our civilization, while opening doors on our intimate path in a world that we now know is fragile.

SOUTH

Editions of the Round Table

South
South

© Radio France
– Editions The Round Table

South recounts a long journey in the Mediterranean, a series of stops in cities, ports, on the coasts. The images were made over several years; the first date from the mid-1980s, the latest from last year. This crossing took place between Morocco, Greece, Israel, Spain, Sicily, Corsica, etc. It doesn’t matter in what order. Starting from the places, a sort of uncertain cartography is established, as if emerging from a dream. For this book, I had the will to distribute these images as I would have done for a deck of cards, without wishing to caption them, to order them according to a chronology. I simply wanted everything to end up merging into a single territory: the South. In this elsewhere, a street in Jaffa may look like another in Palermo, a cove in Crete echoes a stretch of beach in a creek in Marseille. I have no desire to testify, to document, but the simple desire to slowly drift in the South, guided by an inner compass that serves me to re-enchant life through travel, in search of an impossible elsewhere.
Didier Ben Loulou .

ISRAEL EIGHTIES

Editions of the Round Table

israel eighties
israel eighties

© Radio France
– Editions The Round Table

“Sometimes we do things without understanding what drives us to do them. Childhood of art… We advance, we seek, we get lost. I had left behind my studies and Paris.

I knew nothing about anything, neither Hebrew nor this country. I was just a young kid, a city dweller, who loved books, art and who found himself picking oranges and working in hotels to survive. I was 21 years old. There were meetings, the light. On each occasion, in the kibbutz where I lived and then in Tel Aviv, I made images. Wherever I hung out, I photographed, in buses, bus stations, cities, on the roads: faces, countryside, beaches, girls. I walked in the dust of summer, I learned that the earth could turn differently.

I remember Ruppin Street in Tel Aviv. I remember it from the pictures. They slept for more than thirty years in my parents’ Paris apartment. They were waiting for me to find them. Contact sheets are like those little pieces of Japanese paper in Proust’s cup.

They are just waiting to hatch. Reminiscences, memories but above all documents. We are between 1981 and 1985. After that, there will only be color for me. From Jaffa to Jerusalem, from Athens to Marseilles, from Palermo to Salonika, other long wanderings… The black and white of that time was too much like, in my opinion, what should be forgotten, the pseudo-humanist nostalgia of the 1950s- 60, the supremacy of a certain photographic vision. These images taken with outstretched arms – I didn’t always look through the viewfinder – are my personal conquest of a geography, of a composite people, of everything that I had to discover.

Photographing to believe in the concrete, in the real, in the here and now. These images tell a moment of my life, nothing else.

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