photographs
biography
exhibition 2004
exhibition 2006 
exhibition 2011
rose blessé
May 7 - June 18, 2011

Océane, 2010

tirage jet d’encre sur papier baryté encadré sous Marie-Louise
35 x 35 cm (avec cadre)
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

Abdel Nasser et Oscarine #2, 2010

tirage jet d’encre sur papier japonais gampi
50 x 77 cm
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

Blandine #2, 2010

tirage jet d'encre sur papier baryté encadré sous Marie-Louise
49,5 x 45 cm (avec cadre)
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

Abdel Nasser, 2010

tirage jet d’encre sur papier Hahnemuehle contrecollée sur aluminium
51 x 45 cm
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

Oscarine, 2010

tirage jet d’encre sur papier baryté encadré sous Marie-Louise
35 x 35 cm (avec cadre)
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

Oscarine#4, 2010

tirage jet d’encre sur papier Hahnemuehle contrecollée sur aluminium
51 x 45 cm
édition 1/3 + 2 EA

“... Since September, the albinos in Burundi have been the victims of a dreadful, sordid, mad hunt. Five murders, all of them quite appalling , have been committed. Albinos, whether men, women, boys or girls, have become, in spite of themselves, the targets of a very lucrative market....” (1)

After reading this newspaper article, Eric Nehr starts his new series of portraits. His fourth exhibition in gallery Anne Barrault, is political, anthropological, artistic, human. These photographs relate a journey, meetings with this minority in Cameroon and Panama.

In certain African countries, this black man, born white, half-man, half-god, with good or evil powers according to old beliefs, regarded as Market value, can be chased to death. Whereas “ in Panama, albinos are mythologized by the Kuna-Dule, the only Amerindian people who think them so, but who do not actually give them an enviable position for all that, for latent discrimination does exist” (2).

Two positions in two communities, but one eye, that of a photographer bound by the choice of his subject, but whose sense of light, colour, matter prevails in his images.

Through portraits, he gives these albinos, without real social identity, identified as Caucasian people with the ethnic features of their own group, status, importance, and makes visible their critical situation from a medical point of view, whether in Panama or Africa.

This characteristic lack of natural colouring matter in albinos’ skin , hair, hairs, eyelashes, eyes is toned down, rubbed out, digested, emphasized by Eric Nehr.

White, black, coppery, bluish “monochromes” tend to sow confusion and colour the subject. On the one hand, the spectator is stricken by the beauty and transparency of this immaculate whiteness, on the other hand, he is surprised by this blurred face, looking like his own. Out of context, in a coloured background, a typical feature of Eric Nehr’s work as a photographer, the albinos are overexposed to the public, the light, so important for the artist, developing the photographic paper, but so destructive for them. Dazzling, these faces, both angelic and monstrous, are calm, flimsy, grimacing, crude, like Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. Conversely, with a view to protecting and confronting his subject indirectly and protecting his subject, Eric Nehr underexposes it. A dark filter bars sunbeams and scoffing. The Western spectator’s face is reflected in that of the African albino.

Eric Nehr’s photographic, pictorial images are the metaphors of this genetic disease. Pasted up like posters, these faces on India paper become transparent and disappear when hanging on the wall. Technique serves the fragility of these people. These realistic “drawings” reproduce a latent, torn image which can be likened to their place in society and to their vulnerablity.

Eric Nehr has been able, with reserve and distance as regards to his subject, to define the ambivalent status of the African albino, more precise in South America. In one case, the outines of the subject are blurred, merge into his environment, in the other, they are clearer, more assumed.

The spectator is confused. These aesthetical, disturbing photographs make him feel so ill at ease that he is tempted to look away, confronted with the repressed reality revealed by the artist who makes him question the body in society, the body as an “ object of socialization”(3).

Romain Salomon

1) Pierre Lepidi, “In Burundi, albinos are hounded”, Le Monde.fr, December, 22nd 2008.

2) Pascale Jeambrun and Bernard Sergent, Moon children or albinos among Amerindians, Inserm, Orstom, 1991.

3) Ninou Chelala, Albinos en Africa, the enigmatic black whiteness, l’Harmattan, 2009.