40 Years of Photography: 1981-2021 – Outside the Frame

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A retrospective of Eric Bouvet’s 40-year career is on view at the 33rd Visa pour l’image photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France from August 28, 2021 through September 26, 2021.

Photo by Eric Bouvet / VII. Chechnya, 2000. During the first Chechen conflict (1995-1996), I made five trips to Grozny, but this time Minutka Square, a strategic access point in the capital, was unrecognizable. Everything had been razed to the ground. I had only just arrived, and this was the first picture I took. The woman had been forced to leave after the Russians blew up all the buildings so that Chechen fighters could not come back and hide there. Her husband and two sons were dead. All she had was the picture of her husband and two carpets.

About 40 Years of Photography: 1981-2021 - Outside the Frame

While a clockmaker sees time in constant motion, a photographer brings time to a standstill, enjoying freedom and encountering limitations when doing so. The photographer is free to press the pause button on the world for the time it takes to capture an image. Restrictions come with technical requirements that need to be dealt with so as to visually encompass the scope of the earth. It may be the greatest job ever, but there is a price to pay, the price of bringing vast creative freedom to serve and provide documentary records of the human race. Such is the essence of photojournalism, and the aspiration is a source of wonderment, as well as a challenge, for in practice the world is never black and white, but a broad and subtle range of grays. Photographers hunting down pictures must first vanquish any feelings of fear, then reconcile two antithetical dimensions, their love of the world and the depiction of the world as it is. Contrast can be the goal, contrast in opposition or apposition with two mutually edifying elements. But which element is to be chosen?