Black Sheet, 2010-2011

«I'm taking a picture of a black picture. There's nothing to see other than what's reflected there. In this instance, me, my family, friends. The surface is reflective, its texture transforms, disturbs whatever is reflected in it. I do what I always do: look in dark corners and expose to the light things we've overlooked. In this case, the excess of light allow me to draw forth an image from the dark page, which normally absorbs everything. This black sheet is our mind, reflecting everything around it, but all this activity doesn't interfere with its primordial emptiness. Images are like thoughts: they seem solid, important, but they have no materiality. All they can do is fade away.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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I Shot the Crowd, 2009-2011

«Hundreds, thousands of faces are passing across my viewfinder. I’m in the middle of a human torrent. But there is no humanity in these breaking waves. It isn’t that they aren’t human, but rather non-human, something akin to the mechanics of fluids. I shoot blindly, rapidly into this perpetually moving mass. The flash is dazzling, but no one leaves the crowd to express their discontent in the face of such an openly invasive act. No one touches me, or even brushes against me, as if my very intent––an affront to the energy of the crowd––was also a form of protection. The seeming necessity of my activity keeps them at a distance.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Camden, New Jersey, 2008-2009

«This is absurd. I just searched the Web for the most dangerous city in the United States. I wanted to rediscover that strange energy you feel in places where social rules and constraints have been weakened or abolished. A feeling of freedom mixed with danger. I wanted to find out if it was still possible to get close to other people, no matter how distant, no matter how strange they appeared. Camden, New Jersey, two hours from New York City, and just opposite Philadelphia, was at the head of the list. I discovered the face of ordinary poverty hidden behind stigmas and stereotypes. The people of Camden are tough but their laughter is sincere. After being robbed by a prostitute, she gave me ten dollars so I could get home. I’m interested in what we have in common with the people of this city. But at the same time, we always photograph difference. Perhaps it’s a question of producing material proof of the vast economic and social machine that sucks us in and then spits us out.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Stardust, 2005-2006

«In my neighborhood, opposite the crater where the World Trade Center once stood, is a multiplex. I go there in the morning for the first show, and in the empty theater I photograph the small glass separating the projection room from the theater proper. Rather, I photograph the image left behind by the projection when it crosses the glass. All around me is the immense, sound-filled darkness of the theater. I like this idea of a spectacle that unfolds without anyone to witness it. I experience a slight feeling of fear and excitement: it’s against the law to take pictures in theaters. This image, as it moves toward its spectacular destiny, is arrested so close to its source that it exists as a quasi-image, a spectral sonogram, primordial. Histories are dissolved, stars become shadows. Abstraction wins over Hollywood. All is to be imagined anew.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Collateral, 2005

«In the summer of 2005, I spent my vacation in upstate New York, projecting images of wounded or murdered Iraqis on houses, churches, and supermarkets. This was not so much a question of denunciation but of confronting two nearly simultaneous realities: a distant war, merciless and chaotic, about which all we had were partial, carefully filtered echoes, and a landscape, a backdrop where everything was peaceful, orderly, controlled. The projected photographs came from the Web. Most of them had been posted by American soldiers and had humorous captions. An amputated limb, for example, was titled “Where’s the rest of my shit?” A picture of a severed head read “Needs a haircut”.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Traffic, 1999-2003

«There are always traffic jams on Canal Street. The people behind the tinted windows of their large sedans look melancholy and resigned. Others, in buses and taxis, appear bored, overwhelmed by the long day. I stand on the sidewalk, examining them with a powerful telephoto lens. I watch them watching me, incredulous, stupefied, like an animal caught in a car’s headlights at night. Some of them don’t move. Others try to turn away, protect themselves with a newspaper or their hand. And then there are those who confront my mechanical gaze -mostly women -, abandoning their image to a fate they cannot control.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Forbidden City, 1998-2001

«In Paris and New York, I would, from time to time, wander around S&M and swingers clubs with a hidden camera, in pursuit of a dream of dissolution, harmony, and collective ecstasy. As a creator of illusion, I’m concerned with truth. And for me these are places of truth, like mental hospitals and battlefields. In such places, reality is heightened––is sometimes violent––but human interactions are mostly tender and sincere. Strictly speaking, there is little in the way of purely sexual pleasure. As if, strangely, pleasure wasn’t to be found where we most expect it.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Le plus beau jour de la vie, 1995

«A good marriage photograph is a saleable commodity. Yet, a large number of those images are never used and spend their life in boxes, turning yellow. Over the years tens of thousands of pictures accumulate, enough to fill a room. I was working in a photography studio that specialized in weddings and that’s where I began my collection. I was like an archeologist, patiently digging through the strata of this collective memory. I put together my own album. It told the story of a hybrid family, a bit strange, perhaps, but deliberately chosen nonetheless, a narrative that was funny and innocent and sometimes tragic, which vacillated between the representation of happiness and the accidents of life, which could be called reality.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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Madones Infertiles, 1992

«I spent a week wandering around the bordellos in Frankfurt for the magazine Marie Claire. The clubs had three rules: no women, no photographs, no film. There were signs everywhere. The pimps had guns and the women use their high heelsas weapons. A constant stream of men roamed the hallways, from morning till morning. The women waiting. They knit, they gossip, they stare numbly at the TV screen. There was a floor for Western women, one for Asian women, one for Black women. I couldn’t get too close. In my jacket pocket I had concealed a small camera that was far too noisy. I would pretend to be interested, only to leave immediately, coughing to mask the noise of my camera.»
Jean-Christian Bourcart

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