Edition 2008



The most beautiful day of life

Closed on 14 September 2008
"I have never forgotten his scarlet aquariums in Place Furstenberg. Here, a far cry from those swingers’ orgies, he shows some rejected 'best days of their lives'." Christian Lacroix

The most beautiful day of life
At seventeen I came to Paris with a single address in my pocket, that of a company specialising in wedding photos. I learnt the tricks of the trade and earned my crust that way for a number of years. Later on I would become a photojournalist, but it all began in churches and parks and since that time I’ve never lost my fascination with these representations of happiness. They move me with their ambiguity, but is this through idealisation or cynicism? It’s up to the viewer to decide. A good wedding photograph is a photograph sold, but a part of my output found no buyers and lay yellowing in boxes. In the course of the years tens of thousands of images accumulated in this way – enough to fill a room. It was with them that I began my collection, digging like a patient archaeologist into these strata of the collective memory. Thus I made up my own album, telling the story of a hybrid family: not such a great family, but a deliberately chosen one, sometimes funny, sometimes innocent, sometimes tragic, fluctuating between the depiction of happiness and the accidents of life – reality, you might call it. This was a business of recycling and tweaking, with the status of these images changed by the mere fact of being shown to the public; initially the material of a family memory, they become testimony to the popular codes of representation of a century drawing to a close. But sometimes the unlikely mischievously slips in via double exposure, vaseline blur or some other photographic sleight of hand and lays bare the enormous potential for the fantastic. The people in these images are a perfect sample of the middle class, archetypes of the new proletariat: suburbanites. So near and yet so far, these are my neighbours, my brothers and sisters, the people we live among to such a point that there’s no telling if we’re part of them or not. It’s also the extent to which I feel involved that allows me to show these images. And as it happens, I’m getting married soon.
Jean-Christian Bourcart.

Jean-Christian Bourcart is represented by the Rapho Agency, Paris.
Prints produced by Janvier.

Exhibition presented at the Atelier de Maintenance, Parc des Ateliers.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture