Antoine de Saint Exupéry
I am on the threshold of the last part of the literary triptych, this time dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
While both Mácha and Andersen were authors who helped me master specific photographic and expressional techniques, Exupéry is different. Exupéry is “my” writer, I have a personal relationship with him, and for this reason, the whole project will be very personal.
Am I ready for it? Well, that will be proven in the course of this year and the next. I expect to finish it in mid-2019. I have decided, in contrast to the two previous projects – “Mácha Contemplations” and “Through the Eyes of Hans Christian Andersen” – to share the whole creative journey behind this project. While Mácha was about dramatic monochromatic areas and Andersen about contrast, edges, detail, and a blend of expression, Exupéry is definitely about a complex shortcut in the idea and space, LARGE space.
I will certainly appreciate any feedback or additional information if this project catches your attention and if you should be willing to share your knowledge. Follow me on Facebook or the blog on my website.
How do I approach the project? What is its goal? The ambition remains the same as in the two preceding projects – to try and imagine how Exupéry would have seen the world around us if he had looked through a camera lens. What would those photos look like if they were to have the same telling quality as his literary texts? How would the carrier of Southern Mail have photographed them? and the Citadel builder? the Little Prince? What would they have noticed, what would they have captured on camera and how would they have edited the photos to provide the same experience to the viewers as the readers of Exupéry’s books have? Nothing more, nothing less.
I proceed from the presumption that every writer based their works on their own experience. So, my first notion is to understand what had formed them as writers. What are those moments that keep recurring in their work again and again in various forms and approaches? That means I am not interested in illustrating a particular book, but the narrative style, life values, preferences, and the plot-building style. The breakpoints of the plot.
Usually, I start by researching their biographies. Where did the author live, where did they go to school, which street or town could have influenced them because they had spent a significant part of their life there? In this way, I build a list of real, existing places. In the case of Exupéry, they were mainly the places where he spent his childhood and adolescence and to which he was deeply attached – Saint Maurice de Remens, Saint Raphaël, Fribourg – places connected with his flying “trance” – Orconte, Cabo Juby, Amberieu – and places that either remained connected to strong emotive experiences or where his works originated – Fleurville, Bevine House. Of course, I tried to go there and take pictures, not all the places, but some places showed useful. I dare say already, that for my rendition of Exupéry, Saint Maurice, Amberieu and Fleurville will be crucial (well, and I still need to think through Cabo Juby…).
Besides the physical places, I subsequently attempt to define virtual locations. That is, places that represent dreamscapes that I see when reading Exupéry’s books. Photos of such places can originate anywhere. In the case of Exupéry, they will be about unsurmountable mountains, tall trees, the great skies, sand and pebbles, rough hands, paradoxes of the neat and messy, catechism and rituals, a plane in the darkness. And maybe there will be stars and roses, but maybe not… So, I will do some reading again, at least the Southern Mail, Wind, Sand and Stars, Citadelle and The Little Prince.
For the start and as the base of the Saint-Exupéry project I used the Czech translation of Alain Vircondelet’s book “Antoine de Saint Exupery, histoires d’une vie” that used the Consuelo de Saint Exupéry archives.
As regards editing and technique, those still have to ripen. In any case, I already know now that in comparison with the two preceding projects, Exupéry will be much simpler and more concentrated in terms of expression. For me, it is also much more important how the photograph will be presented and printed, processed, including the choice of material – here I intend to push both myself and the company making them for me, because I have a pretty clear idea of the required result :-).
Well, the possibilities for the project will be summed up in my next post.
Straškov, Feb 12, 2018