De la lumière à la poussière – Alexis Manchion [From Light to Dust]

For the past 10 years, Alexis Manchion has been exploring the photographic medium through technical and formal experimentation. And when a visual photographer is interested in light, it is not surprising that he was once attracted by that, so white, of the Atlantic coast, which guided his steps as a traveler from Essaouira to Tangier.

From Light to Dust is the first chapter of an artistic trilogy realized in Morocco. This opus is the intimate vision of an artist put to the test of his sensations. Far from contenting himself with “making things beautiful”, he is driven by a desire to stop time, to capture those suspended moments where silence and emptiness settle in and let the – urban – landscapes express themselves in their most complete bareness. Allegories of the programmed disappearance of a world can then emerge, when dust or sand are about to annihilate everything…

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Paris, Francia
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The photographic project

FROM LIGHT TO DUST is the first part of a photographic trilogy produced since 2019 (the last part is in preparation). A unity of action, place and time. A photographic quest in the city of Essaouira during 24 hours on a day in 2019. Essaouira is here a real visual theatre. We are the spectators of a story told through images, and we are in turn left to our emotions.

This series of images created by Alexis Manchion is in keeping with the very essence of the photographic medium. Yes, Essaouira is a symbol of the power of attraction of light on our sensations. The practice of photography, we must never forget, is first and foremost an experience of the body. Here, the light first blinded the photographer before he tried to tame it. 

He starts by saying “it’s solar”, that’s his first feeling when he puts his feet and his eyes on Essaouira. There is this very white light which seizes him, there is, immediately, this heat which encompasses him at the same time as the wind refreshes the feeling of aridity. Then comes the sensation of emptiness, of nothing. For the airport of Essaouira is a no man’s land as photographers particularly like them, an ideal photographic spot, a landscape that immediately invites contemplation and pictorial expression.

 

What do these first sensations say about the reality of a city? How can a photographer appropriate a space, a territory, capture all its complexity, by going beyond a-priori, how to go beyond a name, Essaouira, which has made tourists and poets dream, and attracted merchants and architects for two centuries?

This is where the other thing comes in, which transforms a simple image into a profound reflection on our relationship to reality. Alexis Manchion was therefore interested in the other side of the picture, in that other reality that escapes the visitor who has come to relax. Carried away by what the sunlight seems to want to hide from the eye, he went in search of another facet of the city, underlying that of tourist life, far from the clichés of ready-made postcards.

Two aspects of the same reality, a desire to stop time, a photograph of disappearance, with this light that radiates to such an extent that what exists seems unreal, or with this dust, this sand, that gradually covers all material things. Sometimes you think you are in the middle of a war zone, while all around you, life is everywhere, alive, noisy, smiling.

This work exposes both the singular geography of this port city – facing the Atlantic but whose white light is reminiscent of Mediterranean cities such as Algiers or Naples – and the tension that reigns within a city that would like to revive a golden age of which the medina is only one of the most beautiful traces.


Who is Alexis Manchion?

Born in Bobigny in 1987, Alexis Manchion grew up in Blois where he started photography. He graduated from EFET in 2011 and continued his apprenticeship for two years as an assistant to the photographer Thierry Girard, before going out on his own.

A disciple of the new objectivity, a monomaniacal photographer of subjects taken from everyday life and multiplied by the image until the real is exhausted, he has developed a photographic style that explores the potential of an aesthetic of the inventory. Like the Bechers in their time with water towers, he compiles images of everyday objects, walls, piles, as in his Heap and Wall series, searches for colours through smooth and dehumanised cities in Colors or bland images through a satire of postcards in the Centre region in Cartes postales.

Whether they are apprehended in a direct way without documentary artifice or as works of art under a more plastic angle, all his photographs deal with the modifications of our physical space and the way we occupy it. Alexis is not looking for the beauty of a place or an object, but for the daily life that everyone is insensitive to.

Between homage to “classical” painting and very raw documentary photography, his artistic journey reminds us that the photographer remains a “snooper”, a walker who “wonders” at the routine.

It is this state of mind that dominates his documentary work From Light to Dust, in which he takes us on a tour of the city of Essaouira in Morocco through urban landscapes that are close to the unreal and yet an exact reflection of the world.

Taking this approach, Alexis uses the common space as a gigantic playground. He then finds links in each territory that gradually participate in the creation of a global work. 

 


Libro

A series of 58 photographs with 4 introductory texts.
The 4 authors bridge the gap between France and Morocco, offering a plurality of views on the work of Alexis Manchion.

Specifications:
Size 32×22 cm landscape
96 pages printed in 7 colors on Arena White Rough 140g paper (photos)
4 pages printed in 1 color on Arena White Rough 140g paper (texts)

Hardcover, 14mm board, H&T bands, soft touch lamination on front cover, rounded back


The authors

ABLA ABABOU

Founder of a contemporary art gallery that bears her name in Rabat, Abla Ababou has created a federative place open to all forms of artistic creation. After studying communication and journalism at the French Press Institute in Paris, Abla Ababou took her first steps in journalism in Casablanca. Her portraits, particularly of little-known artists, found in the four corners of Morocco and beyond, were published in the late 1990s in the weekly newspaper, Le Journal. They very quickly earned him recognition and esteem from professionals. But far from being satisfied with the echo of the written press, she wanted to make as many people as possible aware of culture. This is how she joined the second Moroccan television channel, 2M, for three years, where, as a reporter for the news programme and then as a columnist, she never stopped promoting art through dialogue and friendship with artists from all walks of life. Today, she devotes most of her time to artists through her gallery and her writing. In 2008, Coup de Lune, her first novel, published in France by Éditions du Rocher, had already attracted critical attention.

STÉPHANIE GAOU

She has been living in Tangier for more than 12 years, where she is the founder of the bookshop/gallery Les Insolites and supports numerous photographic projects. She is an enlightened observer of the changes in her adopted city. Her space has become an essential place, open to all and supportive, awarded in 2021 with the grand prize of the “bookshop outside France” by the French literary magazine Livres Hebdo. At the same time, she publishes poems and short stories (L’Harmattan & gehess editions), and she is the author of a long story-poem published by Al Manar in 2016, Capiteuses. She regularly participates in the writing of short films and books.

THIERRY GIRARD

After having started with reportage photography, in black and white and with his Leica, in the great tradition of photojournalism and street photography, Thierry Girard abandoned this “documentary” approach in the middle of the 1980s to become more interested in landscapes. He gradually abandoned the 24 x 36 mm (small format) and his Leica to work, still in black and white, in medium format. In the mid-1990s, colour began to appear in his work. He then started exploring the landscape. These itineraries are all pretexts for an inner quest, in search of “signs” that he will capture in a very personal interpretation of space. 

He has been working with Alexis Manchion for several years and they share the same approach: “My photographic work can be defined as an experience of crossing the world which is articulated in a sort of dialectical tension between geographical displacement and the inner journey”.

XAVIER GUILLON

Born in 1960, at the height of the period of intensive urban development – a time of wastelands and construction sites – and trained at the Beaux-Arts, he has been an editor in chief of the specialized press and publisher (Atmosphères Editions) since 2012. He writes about his favourite fields, which are landscape, urbanism and architecture. His various collaborations with architects, his writing work where the formation of the gaze and the reflection on the city remain the main themes, are most often supported by photography. It is therefore no coincidence that he also became a gallery owner in 2021 to continue to question landscapes and other city districts by showing the work of photographers, designers, painters and other visual artists, a place for discussion and sharing between those who love the urban… The name of his gallery “La prairie nature – zone sensible”, located in Tours, is not misleading.

 


A word from the photographer 

“It’s solar, that’s my first feeling when I arrive in Essaouira. There is this very white light, the temperature is high but the power of the wind refreshes the feeling of aridity. Yes, the airport of Essaouira is a magnificent photographic “spot” lost in the middle of “nothing”. I know right away that it will not be complicated to make “good pictures”. Essaouira is special, small but very touristy, a bobo city of artists and kite-surfers, the atmosphere of the medina seems to me to be totally “fake” and I quickly feel the need to get out of it to see the other side of the scene. 

Then I just have to walk a few minutes to see a completely different landscape. There is always this light, this strong light, this sunlight. The beautiful beach for tourists, cleaned every day, gives way to another one that I would describe as an open-air bin where rubbish piles up as far as the eye can see. The tourist life gives way to a working class life, dirty and surviving with particularly precarious working conditions. No one complains, everyone moves on, does the “job”. It’s all about getting by, everything is accumulated and stored. The mix of smells between olive oil production, tannery or the emptying of sardine containers gives a rather powerful olfactory sensation close to nausea. However, what is striking is that everything seems normal to the limit of logic, people seem happy, even if I can feel the questioning look “why don’t you go and take some pictures in the medina? I understand the embarrassment that can be felt to see someone, a foreigner moreover, photographing a setting so far from the postcard. It’s out of time, even at a standstill, it’s a succession of pictures, each more unreal than the next, it sometimes looks like a war zone, yet life is everywhere, alive, noisy, smiling, and there is this sand, this dust that inexorably enters the city. The terms “light” and “dust” become the representation of a sensation, of a reality. They constantly collide along my photographic quest.


Financing the project

No prints from this series have been sold to date. The prices offered here are exceptional prices. The sale of prints will be one of the main way of financing the production of the book and an exhibition.


 

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€129

1 book + 1 Art Print signed, not numbered - size 20x30 cm
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€199

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€250

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Workshop with Alexis Manchion >>>> "From the genesis of a project to the production of a book" >>> duration 1 day / 1 session / 10 people per session (lunch included) >>> max 10 people, session located in Paris >>> 250€ per participant
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€250

1 book + 1 Art Print signed, not numbered in 30x40 format 
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€400

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500 €

Art Print 30x40 cm format, signed and numbered (print only, unframed).
Art Prints available from 1/10 to 10/10
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€700

Art Print 40x60 cm format, signed and numbered (print only, unframed)
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€1200

Art Print 80x120 cm format, signed and numbered (print only, unframed).
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Art Prints available from 1/10 to 10/10.

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Name Donate Amount Date
Anila GILL 40,00 November 23, 2022
Jerome Donneau-Renard 40,00 November 14, 2022
Mehdi Ait El Mallali 40,00 November 14, 2022
Anonymous 75,00 November 05, 2022
Baptiste Le Net 40,00 November 03, 2022
Jonathan boucher 75,00 November 01, 2022
Ariel Ferras 75,00 October 27, 2022
Guillaume Landry 40,00 October 26, 2022
Caroline Tribot 40,00 October 20, 2022
Clément Ledermann 129,00 October 19, 2022
Adrien Jolivard 40,00 October 16, 2022
Claire Jacquet 40,00 October 15, 2022
Isaline Solon 40,00 October 13, 2022
Anonymous 40,00 October 12, 2022
Patrice Manchion 129,00 October 12, 2022
Emmanuelle Rodriguez 40,00 October 12, 2022
Quentin Narizano 75,00 October 12, 2022
Yoann Dubruque 40,00 October 11, 2022
Thibaut JN 129,00 October 11, 2022
Florian Kinet 40,00 October 11, 2022
Pierre Faure 75,00 October 11, 2022
Arto Huart 40,00 October 11, 2022
Anaïs Claval 40,00 October 11, 2022
Emy Palluault 40,00 October 11, 2022
Sylvain Palma Jacinto 40,00 October 11, 2022
Guillaume Bignon 40,00 October 11, 2022
Grégoire GIRARD 40,00 October 11, 2022

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