Alain Willaume “Vulnerable”

French Institute Alliance Française

poster for Alain Willaume “Vulnerable”

This event has ended.

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York’s premiere French cultural center, is pleased to present VULNERABLE, the first-ever U.S. solo exhibition of work by French photographer Alain Willaume, as part of the 2017 edition of the Crossing the Line Festival. Curated by François Hébel, perhaps best known as the longtime director of the prestigious Les Rencontres de la photographie festival in Arles, France, VULNERABLE.

Alain Willaume’s unusual photos evoke a ghostly undercurrent in our everyday lives. Depicting lone and meditative figures in barren landscapes and dusty roads, they highlight the fractures in the places we call home. Working outside of the mainstream and of the traditions of documentary photography, Willaume creates an arresting personal cartography of engaged metaphors and enigmatic imagery. His haunting body of work evokes the lurking violence and vulnerability in the world as well as in the human beings who inhabit it.

VULNERABLE is an immersive installation, designed by François Hébel, that introduces Willaume to American audiences with photos spanning the photographer’s body of work.

François Hébelsaid of Willaume, “This fine photographer is anything but flashy. He enjoys nothing better than being on the roads of all the continents. He has never wasted time on the intrigues required to earn the recognition he deserves. His photographs of real life are restrained without being prim, dark but not despairing; they change depending on his subjects and the way he handles them […] but they have a point in common: an austerity that focuses on the essentials. His enigmatic photography resembles him and is endowed with restless energy and a kind of concerned nonchalance. […] He asks little more of life than to be able to continue devoting himself to research.”

Alain Willaume said, “Fiction is not the other side of reality but one of its processes. My work often evokes traces of the very real threats to the earth and its inhabitants. It does not oppose commitment and mystery, alarm and serenity but, on the contrary, tries to unite them in a silent form.

VULNERABLE is the sixth exhibition in the French Protocol series, through which Hébel and FIAF aim to introduce contemporary French photographers with distinctive styles to American audiences. A type of conscious and controlled photography, the French Protocol, as Hébel sees it, is the antithesis of the “decisive moment,” the term famously coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Instead, it defines technical approaches and serial aesthetics—a frame, a light—that together become the signature of the project or the entire work of the photographer. This approach was first developed by the Anglo-Saxons while the French were attached to photo reportage and humanist discourse. However, a new generation of French photographers has brilliantly adopted the technique, applying it to a variety of photographic modes.

French photographer Alain Willaume lives and works in Paris. His work is exhibited worldwide. Willaume began hisphotography career in 1979. Since 2010, he has been a member of Tendance Floue, a French collective of experimental photographers that received the ICP Publication Infinity Award in 2007 for the book Sommes-nous?, featuring text by Jean Baudrillard. He received a First Prize Sony World Photography Award in 2011 and the Kodak Award “Prix de la Critique” in 1979. Since 2003, he has also been a guest professor in art schools, including the Haute école des arts du Rhin in Strasbourg and the École nationale supérieure d’art in Nancy, France.

As director of Les Recontres de la photographie in Arles (1986-1987), Hébel was crucial to exposing a whole generation of photographers to the general public, including pivotal figures of the 1980s such as Martin Parr, Nan Goldin, Paul Graham, Annie Leibovitz, Sebastiao Salgado, and Eugene Richards. After leading the Magnum photo agency (Paris and International) from 1987 to 2000, Hébel returned to the prestigious festival Les Rencontres in 2001, resuming his role there as director, where he remained for 13 years. Hébel is also the founder and director, since 2013, of the Foto/Industria Biennial in Bologna, Italy; co-creator of the Photo Spring festival in Beijing, China; and Artistic Director of Le Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris in 2017. His publications include Mick Jagger: The Photobook (Contrasto +4, 2010) and Harry Gruyaert, Rivages (Textuel, 2003).

About Crossing the Line 2017
“Adventurous programming that makes you think as much about your place in the world as about art itself.”—The New York Times

Crossing the Line is an international arts festival for New York City produced by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with leading cultural institutions. The festivalis co-curated by Lili Chopra, FIAF’s Executive Vice President and Artistic Director; Simon Dove, Executive and Artistic Director of Dancing in the Streets; and Gideon Lester, Artistic Director for Theater and Dance at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.

France has a long history of supporting national and international cultural practices, welcoming and nurturing new ideas and influential perspectives from around the world. FIAF, as the leading French cultural institution in the US, critically maintains that practice through the Crossing the Line Festival, presenting leading-edge artists from France and the US alongside their peers from around the world.

Since its inauguration in 2007, Crossing the Line has cultivated an increasingly large and diverse following, and received numerous accolades in the press including “Best of” in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, Artforum, and Frieze. Festival performances have earned multiple Obie and Bessie awards.

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from September 15, 2017 to October 28, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-09-14 from 18:00 to 20:00


Alain Willaume

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