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Stephen Dock

Artist presented by
Delpire & Co, Paris, France

Our day will come

Our day will come, “Tiocfaidh ár lá” in Gaelic.

Popular slogan of Northern Irish republican militants that expresses hope for freedom or victory but also bellicosity and the desire to defeat the enemy. These words cannot be read without thinking of our last hours, those of our death.

Stephen Dock took his first steps towards photojournalism at a young age. The great masters of the genre—Stanley Greene, Gilles Caron and Gilles Peress—instilled him with a compelling desire to ”go to the front” and determined his calling: getting the right image in a conflict, capturing tension, seizing the event. In 2008 he traveled to Mali, Nepal, Palestine, Venezuela and Syria. He was just 20. He wanted to experience the extraordinary and the incredible thrill of being in the heart of the world’s chaos.

But his obsession with battlefields was just a means to speak of human suffering, starting, undoubtedly, with his own. The front line gradually receded. He pulled back from it the better to understand his quest. “I had to detoxify myself from war,” he says. How could violence be photographed without the guns and deaths? Under the benevolent eye of his  “fathers”, he broke the rules, mixing color with black and white, fragmenting or reframing the photograph. This distancing was necessary to put him on a new personal and professional path.

When the “New IRA” (Irish Republican Army) was formed in 2012, Mr. Dock again felt the pull of Northern Ireland. An outsider to the country’s situation, he went there 12 times in six years without being able to capture the slightest sign of conflict. The tensions were impalpable and unphotographable. He encountered the underlying violence of everyday life, that of words and simmering anger, a latent, impenetrable, centuries-old war between catholics and protestants. So his work took a more oblique angle. Commemoration ceremonies, pubs, bonfires, graffiti, walls, architecture and hopeless youth became his material, more “ordinary” but also more limiting.

“Photograph from the inside out, not the other way around,” said Gilles Peress. Those words echo in him. His work became free and fell silent. Withdrawn from a world that no longer requires him to be in it, he now observes and documents experience that is seen and felt.

Fannie Escoulen

Born 1988 in Mulhouse, France.
Lives and works in Paris, France.
Since 2008, Stephen Dock has worked in Venezuela, Nepal, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Mali, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Eritrea and Indian Kashmir. A member of the VU’ agency from 2012 to 2015, he was shortlisted for the 2018 Leica Oskar Barnack Award. His photographs were shown at the Leica gallery during Paris Photo 2018, at the CNAP and at the Tbilisi Photo, Visa pour l’image, MAP-Toulouse and Bayeux Festivals. They have appeared in the French and international press, including Le Monde Magazine, Figaro Magazine, Newsweek Japan, Paris Match, Internazionale, VSD and Libération.

Exhibition curator: Fannie Escoulen.
Exhibition coproduced with La Filature, Scène Nationale, Mulhouse and Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-Sur-Saône.
With th support from CNAP - Centre National des Arts Plastiques.