Eudosia

 

 

From the Greek ευδοξος (eudoxos): ευ (eu) “good” and δοξα (doxa) “notion, reputation, honour, glory” so it means “good reputation or good opinion”.

Eudosia is my grandmother.

She was born on August 10th 1921 in a tiny village close to the atlantic coast of Galicia.

She was the oldest of two daughters. She only went to school till the Civil war began. She always felt that her mother was harder on her, that she had preference for her sister. Her father died when she was little so she had to go to serve to a richer house at a young age, which was kind of common at that time and place.

She married Jose and had 5 children: 4 girls and the youngest, a boy. Jose, my grandfather, died when the boy was still a baby, falling into the well of the house and breaking his neck. We still use the water of that well.

Being already a poor family, the children had to work since a young age, but when Eudosia became a widow, she sent her daughters to Swizerland, like many others in the region, to make their living and to send money to rebuild the family house. One stormy night the roof of the house flew away, Eudosia and her son hide in a corner. Barely under cover, with the rain falling and the wind blowing, he asked her if the wolf would come to take them (at that time there were still wolves in that region).  His son was always her favorite, and some of her daughters have never forgiven her for pushing them away.

When I was a baby my grandmother took care of me for a little while, as my mum had to go back to work. Every summer me and my cousins went to pass some time with her. I used to sleep next to her in her bed, and we would talk endlessly about things I can not remember, stories for children about a chicken and a fox, stories of her life,  her views about life and death and what should be done and what should not.

She told me that when she was young she loved to dance, to play the tambourine and to sing traditional galician songs in the parties brought by the youngster of the village every week from one house to another. She told me about the scarcity of an already hard rural life that has shaped her soul to a survival mode, the lack of pleasure, the value of hard work, the community inter-dependency, as well as the need to be normal and keep living life like every body else. The over importance of food, a clean house, the looks of others, the constant comparison and competition with others,  the ideal of material confort and the preference for quantity over quality. All of that is deep inside our collective psyche.

Now she is 96 and she is senile, she always asks : “where am I ? When am I going back home ?”, even if she is still living in the same home since whenever, with the same restlessness than the rest of her previous life.

Nahia is my daughter.

Nahia was born on August 8th 2011. Nahia means in Basque the shapes and moves made by the wind on the wheat grass. The first six months of her life she wouldn’t stop crying despite our attempt to live by the idea of attachment parenting (breastfeeding, baby wearing, bedding close to her…)

From my abuela to her there is a big jump and yet, there is a continuity. She is a métis made of mixed languages, cultures and differences; and at the same time she comes to resolve the same inner pain that has been repeated again and again: the lack of deeper connections,  the lack of understanding of real love, the hunger beyond limits for tenderness and care from others and to others, the emotional cannibalism, the quest for meaning out of the automatism, the sense of it all.

We and our families are waves of energy crushing ones against each other to reach shore, to caress the warm soft sand of some sunny beaches somewhere in our dreams.

Die Zürchers

 

 

We stayed at the Zurcher’s for about three weeks. The first days were all about discovering their  universe:  just beside the road, hidden from the view, between two hills down by the river, a hidden paradise made of lovely people, hardworking people, tough, strong, resilient, creative, sensitive, educated, loving with their children, their trees, their animals, open with foreigners, searching something still, like the rest of us, the missing secret ingredient to a peaceful mind,  a contented heart.

I’m 40 years old, if I’m lucky I’m at the middle of my path here on earth, I should know things, I have been places, I had experiences… So how come the world keeps surprising me like I haven’t seen a thing ?  In a random conversation preparing dinner I asked her if he was her first love, she said no, so I supposed that he was her last, she said neither. The complexity of their relation unfold like a very well deliver plot. I was thrilled to discover what makes them so different, what makes it so difficult , what makes it so beautiful, that unique energy in the whole place,  the sense over the mess, the tsunami still on going.

A farm in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland turned out to be the center of the world: opening my eyes to new horizons in partnership, to diverse and unique ways of being together,  of evolving together.

Under beauty,  under any beauty, there is a  current of constant pain that sustains that beauty. Palm trees and white sunny beaches have mosquitoes at night, order and security in western civilization feel claustrophobic lacking the breath of life. Everything has a price on it, not because the universe is a mean motherfucker, it is just a matter of energy,  polarities and balance.

They would be the survivors in an end of the world scenario . They will be the heroes of a new world. So brave, so free, so ascetic, so driven, so powerful yet so vulnerable human creatures. Such a sharp trace. Such an uneasy mark. Such a distinctive nature. Such a myth,  die Zurchers.

(Higher resolution images here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a long way home

 

“You look Moroccan”

“Why don’t you have a Moroccan passport ?”

“Didn’t you go to settle things ?”

“Why don’t you speak arab ?”

I don’t know.

I don’t know  even though I’m French by my mother, Moroccan by my father and  I used to spent my summer holidays between Rabat and Agadir with my father’s family until my 13th birthday.

I have memories from this time.

I went back in 2014 for 3 weeks with my wife and my daughter after a break of more than 25 years, to talk to a father who was out of my life for almost the same amount of time. I went to get some answers, I guess. I’m a father too, now, after all.

The meeting didn’t happen. I went back a second time in december 2017 and it didn’t happen either, because he was abroad.  It was like a compressed reenactement of our story.

Why was I here, to be left with useless questions ?

And the fear, and the lack of sense and the stupid anger mixed with relief and the misunderstanding and my childhood memories flashing straight to my 42 y.o man’s eyes and this feeling of disconnected belonging.

So, I took some pictures to recreate a link and make friends with doubt.

I didn’t shut it out. I let it speak.

 

 

Tiny Windows

 

 

When I was little, I used to love watching the lit windows in the houses and buildings at night: the warm light in the living rooms, the cold blue from the strip-lights in the kitchens, the cozy ambience from the bedroom windows… these lights and colors  in the dark seemed to me like stars in the night sky, signs of life in parallel universes. I wondered who was living there, what they were doing, what they were feeling, if they were feeling something similar to me.

Many many years later, I’m at this three storey british house, brown bricks, with a magnolia tree full of pink flowers blooming at the entry door. When I arrived at this house, I was instantly magnetized by the energy of the place, soaked with past lifes, traces of memories everywhere. Between the kitchen and the main living room there was a tight and curved corridor, kind of a secret passage.  In this dark corridor there was a tiny window from where you could guess the garden outside, only guess because the view was almost covered by the leaves of a bamboo tree.

This specific window called my attention , the quietness of this corner, the light in the dark of the corridor, there was a mystery there, so i took a photo and then another one… How to capture the way a place feels just with a photo? But I kept trying and almost every time I passed by this place I took a photo, just to try to catch the intangible magic of it.

The next day before I left, I asked her what was her favorite place in the house,  and she told me the tiny window.

 

For me, photos are just like windows. They let enter light, they let us guess what is inside.

But photos are not enough to tell the whole story about what these encounters with the people I photographed have meant to me. Photos can not tell about the conversations we had, the stories you shared with me,  youth wounds, family history, wishes and hopes for the future…  thanks for opening up to me, listening to you, watching you, I understood things about my own path.

This photographic project around intimacy & family life began two years ago with a set of photos called Aux sources, to date we have photographed more than 15 families in three countries with different origins and backgrounds.

My days in London with the wonderful families that welcomed me there have helped me to see that we are all connected, that many of us share this common ground of struggle from which we raise, to raise our own family. We’re trying our best to be better than our parents for our children. Not an easy task, knowing that our early life experiences have shaped us to become who we are now. Anyway, despite our most committed efforts, someday it will be our turn to be the ground that our children pierce to raise from it. And there’s a soothing joy in that, like a tiny window in the dark, like a promise at dawn.

The miraculous

“I have an intense desire to record life as I see it. As long as I’m amazed and astonished, as long as I feel that events, messages, expressions, and movements are all shot through with the miraculous, I’ll feel filled with the certainty I need to keep going. When that day comes, my doubts will vanish.” – Louis Faurer

Le coeur contenté

Merci, merci pour cette journée, merci pour toutes les journées.

C’est peu de dire que je vous aime.

 

Bliss

Quelquechose de sensible et d’important

L’odeur des arbres baignés dans le soleil, le bois et la pierre qui râpent doucement les mains, le sable et les sourires, les gestes et les regards suspendus. C’est qu’il faut encapsuler tous ces prodiges, travailler à les rendre visibles…

 

 

Un abri sous le ciel

Paul Bowles dans un magnifique plan séquence du film The Sheltering Sky (adaptation au cinéma de son roman éponyme par Bertollucci) dit ceci : “Parce que nous ne savons pas quand nous allons mourir, nous sommes amenés à considérer la vie comme un bien inépuisable  et pourtant tout arrive seulement un certain nombre de fois et un tout petit nombre, vraiment. Encore combien de fois vous souviendrez  vous d’un certain après midi d’enfance, un après midi qui fait si profondément partie de vous que vous ne pouvez envisager votre vie sans lui  ? Peut être quatre ou cinq fois, peut être même pas. Encore combien de fois verrez vous la pleine lune se lever ? Peut être vingt. Et pourtant tout apparait sans limite.” 

Voici des images d’un voyage que nous avons effectué dans le désert marocain. Notre émerveillement et notre joie se mêlaient à l’humilité d’être là, présents au monde, un monde si sauvagement beau.

Vous pouvez voir aussi le video clip de ce voyage dans la section qui sommes nous ? 

 

 

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