Photo credit : © Catherine Peter, 2020.
Michel Poivert is Professor of Art History at the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, where he founded the chair of history of photography, he is also a critic and exhibition curator.
Historian of photography, his publications include La photographie contemporaine (Flammarion, 2018), L’image au service de la révolution (Le Point du Jour Éditeurs, 2006), Gilles Caron, le conflit intérieur (Photosynthèse, 2012), Brève histoire de la photographie, essai (Hazan, 2015), Les Peintres photographes : de Degas à Hockney (Citadelles & Mazenod, 2017), Gilles Caron, 1968 (Flammarion, 2018) and 50 ans de photographie française de 1970 à nos jours (Textuel, 2019). He has notably organised the exhibitions La Région humaine (Musée d’art contemporain, Lyon, 2006), L’Événement, les images comme acteur de l’histoire (Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2007), Gilles Caron, le conflit intérieur (Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, 2013), Nadar, la Norme et le Caprice (Multimedia Art Museum, Moscou, 2015), Gilles Caron Paris 1968 (Hôtel de Ville, Paris, 2018), Philippe Chancel Datazone (Arles, 2019), 50 ans de photographie française (Palais Royal, Paris, 2020).
He is otherwise president of the association of prefiguration of the Collège international de photographie du Grand Paris (CIPGP).
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
After the astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, the astrophysicist Sylvestre Maurice and the oceanographer Catherine Jeandel (both from the scientific world) and Héloïse Conesa, you are the first patron from the world of photography to join the Résidence 1+2. What motivated you to accept this invitation?
What is your role as patron?
What does the experience of a photographic residency mean to you in the creative process of a contemporary photographer?
I think the experience of a residency is essential for the career of a photographer or more broadly of an artist. Not all residences offer the same facilities in terms of time, funding and dissemination, and the fragmentation of offers and actors on the territory does not always makes things easier, but it has to be recognized that a residency which allows time and contacts to germinate a project, which finances the production of works and participates in their promotion can be a great springboard. The residency also makes it possible to reshuffle the cards of a work in the light of a territory or an idea, to sometimes takes the author out of his comfort zone by going to discover new knowledge or technologies, new landscapes or lifestyles. Sometimes photographers are asked to run workshops on their practice and while this role of mediator is important, it should be reminded that the art works itself can impulse an unifying and large public debate in which the artist is a passer of knowledges, of know-how and essentials sensitivities to the understanding of the world.
A successful residency, in my opinion, therefore, manages to combine the particularity of the statement that establishes the rules of the game between the artist and the residency, with the universality of a work whose echo can go beyond the framework set by the residency. Sometimes the residency may appear as a side step or a breath in a photographer’s career but when the meeting really occures, the project developed in this context is perfectly articulated with his or her other works and testifies the coherence of a career. This is why it is important not only that the residencies select authors but also that the photographers are in line with the principles of the residencies in their creative research.
Are photography and science meant to dialogue and interact? In your opinion, what are the possible synergies? For what objectives?
Artistic, societal and environmental issues, what role can a residence such as ours play in the face of these major contemporary challenges ?
Interviewed by the Résidence 1+2