Edition 2006


Politic.s, 1973-1977

Closed on 17 September 2006
“My American friend and the most French American photographer! He didn’t know the French reporting style, so I taught him. For me he was a true product of American photojournalism, working fast and very close, with lots of different cameras. I called on him when I was making 1974, Une Partie de Campagne, the film on Giscard d’Estaing’s presidential campaign, and he stayed on for the Mitterrand campaign in 1981. I wanted people to see his vision of France as it then was, and what emerged was a dual version: a French view of Chile and an American view of presidential campaigns in France.”
Raymond Depardon

In 1973 Salvador Allende had been Chilean president for three years, but his Popular Unity party’s attempt at agrarian reform and economic auto-nomy had its enemies, notably the Republican administration of Richard Nixon, not at all pleased to see a left-wing government in this part of the world. With American backing the forces of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the elected government on September 11th, in a bloody coup d’état that brought the death of Allende in the presidential palace in Santiago. Many other Chileans were arrested and tortured. David Burnett arrived in Santiago a few days later, but was quick to catch up with events there, producing one of those iconic images that capture all the emotional violence of certain events: surrounded by soldiers in the basement of the national stadium, the young prisoner Daniel Cespedes looks at the camera with eyes saying a final farewell to freedom, in what has become one of the definitive pictures of the coup d’état for our collective imagination. In the years that followed Burnett was a frequent visitor to France at election time, notably for Time magazine, with which he had cut his journalistic teeth in Vietnam in 1970 –72. He regularly accompanied Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who was intrigued by this American who spoke French, and with Raymond Depardon he covered the presidential campaign of 1974: the closeness to the candidate they enjoyed seems almost incredible in comparison with the rigidly controlled setups now imposed by the PR teams photographers have come to detest. Burnett, whose humorous eye gained him the trust of all, also followed François Mitterrand in the early days of his move towards the presidency, along with Raymond Barre, Michel Rocard and Jacques Chirac – plus wife Bernadette – when Chirac successfully ran for mayor of Paris in 1977. Other subjects included the intellectuals Raymond Aron and Michel Foucault, with a return to France for the Mitterrand campaign in 1981. However, his visits became fewer as stories elsewhere drew his attention, and he ultimately came to concentrate on American politics and presidential campaigns. Even so, he remains the most French of all American photographers based in their home country.  Curators: Raymond Depardon and Robert Pledge

Exhibition produced by the Rencontres d'Arles in association with Contact Press Images. The silver prints of Chile are by Teresa Engle, New York. The digital French political prints are by Digital Output Technology, New York City.

  • 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