Written review by
Assistant Curator, Special Projects & International Outreach, International Center of Photography, NYC, USA
As discussed, I chose to review this color essay rather than the black & white portfolio: I instinctively reacted to Jean-Christophe’s color work, which is intense, and extremely attractive. It seems to me that this is where his (great) talent lies: his eyes see in poetic colors. In a way, this essay reminds me of Wim Wender’s Once - with an added layer of politics, and death. I like the way he composed his essay, with no captions next to the images, and more explanation in the end. It leaves room for thoughts, imposing a respectful time and space to each image and subject; and then, in the end, the thoughtful captions offer different layers of meaning and understanding: the politics, the social drama; and also, sometimes, sheer beauty offering itself to subjectivity and metaphor.
The use of color, the subtle way Jean-Christophe uses it, and the perfect distance between him and his subjects, make for a real visual journey. I am particularly drawn to Border Market, which seems to gather all these elements at once: composition, beauty, social and political meaningfulness. I also love the portrait of Jorge, who seems like he is floating on his bicycle, and of El Loco (perfect caption, no comment), who looks like a tragic character in a Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noce. Ruben, slightly elevated on his rock, wearing a discreet smile, is a very poetic character. I greatly appreciate the thoughts behind the images, the subtle balance between moral and visual intelligence – and the concern. Wall - San-Luis Rio Colorado, Borderline and Wall - Between San-Luis Rio Colorado and Sonoyta (particularly the first one – a deceiving horizon) are also extremely striking, partly because of their inherent, universal, implication: the lethal divide, from Palestine, to Belfast - to Mexico. Untitled, Thorns and Streering Wheel are very powerful images, visually stunning nature mortes, beautifully composed, and divinely lit.
Bullet impacts, perhaps the most frontally violent image, is very poignant, with the shockingly green grass emphasizing the feeling of time passing and recurring – very much in tone with the quote by Morgan Sportès.
The distance varies in every picture – never too far or too close - adding life and nuance to the essay. Somehow, the last photographs remind us that this is a documentary essay - bringing us back from semi-fiction, or rêve éveillé, to the tangible realities of death and nature. The quality of this work is truly excellent. There is an intense feeling of endurance in all these portraits, landscapes and still-lives, that is very unique and moving. I must admit that I have very little criticism to make, as I think that all in all this body of work is extremely even and consistent. I do hope that Jean-Christophe gets to develop, publish and exhibit this body of work soon.