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Author: H. J. McCracken

Andrée Chédid, « Destination : arbre »

Andrée Chédid, « Destination : arbre »

This lovely text appeared on the exam scripts of millions of French students yesterday:

Parcourir l’Arbre
Se lier aux jardins
Se mêler aux forêts
Plonger au fond des terres
Pour renaître de l’argile

Peu à peu
S’affranchir des sols et des racines
Gravir lentement le fût
Envahir la charpente
Se greffer aux branchages

Puis dans un éclat de feuilles
Embrasser l’espace
Résister aux orages
Déchiffrer les soleils
Affronter jour et nuit

Évoquer ensuite
Au cœur d’une métropole
Un arbre un seul
Enclos dans l’asphalte
Éloigné des jardins
Orphelin des forêts

Un arbre
Au tronc rêche
Aux branches taries
Aux feuilles longuement éteintes

S’unir à cette soif
Rejoindre cette retraite
Écouter ces appels

Sentir sous l’écorce
Captives mais invincibles
La montée des sèves
La pression des bourgeons
Semblables aux rêves tenaces
Qui fortifient nos vies

Cheminer d’arbre en arbre
Explorant l’éphémère
Aller d’arbre en arbre
Dépistant la durée.

52 photographs (2018) #52: In the garden

52 photographs (2018) #52: In the garden

It’s the end of the year. And the last photograph in this series. The sky is overcast. It is what they call on the photography forums a “flat day” (it took me a long while to understand what that meant). There was never a day flatter than this. But I am in Versailles, and I never tire of going to the gardens there. I brought my recently-repaired Rolleiflex with me, loaded up with my last roll of Tri-X.

In the garden

Here in the depths of December the statues are all wrapped up for the winter. I look down the avenues of the garden and remember what Szarkowski wrote about Atget not taking the photographs that the garden wanted you to take. So I look a little to the left, and I wonder if I’ll be able to see the wrapped-up statues against the empty hedges. I click the shutter.

52 photographs (2018) #51: Ancient light

52 photographs (2018) #51: Ancient light

The Rolleiflex 2.8C that my friend Mr. Seagull ‘loaned’ me on such generous terms came back from repair, just in time for the Christmas break. It was made some time in the early 1950s. After being thoroughly serviced at Photo Suffren it was fully returned to working order. I had had been plagued by randomly blurry images which in the end had nothing to do with focus (how could that go wrong on a Rollei where both lenses are fixed together on the same bit of metal) but was in fact simply a problem of film transport. So after picking up the camera I went out and shot a roll of Tri-X in the streets around the shop.

Ancient light

That evening, I anxiously developed that first roll of film in my 70-year-old ‘new’ Rolleiflex. I was relieved to see the images were all sharp and in focus. But sadly, I am afraid that the weather was overcast and cloudy and not a ray of light was to had. But there’s still something there, a certain ‘medium format’ look. It’s funny, in the days when the Rollei was the press photographer’s camera of choice, medium format was the ‘normal’ format size, and Leicas were ‘miniature’ format…

Why “Ancient Light” ? Because I simply wonder about all the light that has passed through this camera since it was made, seventy years ago…