Ever since the 80s, photographer Didier Ben Loulou has been traveling along the Mediterranean coast he loves so much. He crisscrosses these cities and landscapes in the quest for an absolute and seeks to give meaning to existence through his images. A recipient of the 1995 Villa Medici Hors les Murs artist in residence program, he is the author of some twenty books, including Israel 80’s (1981-1985) published by Éditions de la Table Ronde, Athènes, published by Éditions de la Table Ronde, Marseille, co-published by Arnaud Bizalion and Le Garage Photographie, and Jerusalem, published by Éditions du Panama.
A beached ship stranded near the shore, the traces of time on a stone house, skins scorched by the sun, sharp shadows, a languorous kiss, rays of light entering through a window or a door, hands marked by years of working the land: Didier Ben Loulou photographs the details and the timeless scenes of the Mediterranean rim. “I want to be a simple transmitter of that which is revealed to me silently and in secret.” The square format and saturated colors are essential characteristics of his work, as is the Fresson process he uses to print his analog images.
For the short book Méditerranée being released by Tritone Press, he has selected a few iconic images from his series to retrace his quest around the Mediterranean, a wandering journey during which he takes the risk of confusing the various cities and landscapes he explored. As with his book Sud, published by Editions de la Table Ronde (2018), there are no captions to go with his images. No indication of time or place. We browse through his images as we dream of an unreachable elsewhere.
Didier Ben Loulou has only one wish, which is to let himself be carried away: “I have no desire to bear witness, to document what I see, only the simple desire to slowly drift through the South, guided by an internal compass that helps me reclaim the enchantment of life through travel, in search of an impossible elsewhere.” Where are we ? In Marseille, Jaffa or Beirut? In Athens, Palermo or Ajaccio? We can no longer tell. Only a few clues are there to guide us, and even so, they’re often misleading, due to how intrinsically linked the stories of these cities are.
La Méditerranée by Didier Ben Loulou, published by Tritone Press, 40 pages, 8€.