Photo de l'installation de la série Zeb'Zeb' exposed at Espace Icare (Issy-les-Moulineaux), in may 2010 for Savine Dosda's solo show (Auto)biographies. Photo. J.-C. Potard.

Zeb' (2003 – 28th february 2009)
Séries composed of 72 black and white analog photographs, made in Guadeloupe and organized in 8 chapters entitled.

“Zeb’” is a fiction with an autobiographic background, in which personal history is intimately resonating with that of the land where it takes place. The story is composed of 72 photographs structured in 8 chapters. Their titles give sense to the comprehension of the different movements. Each detail is connected to the next one in order to recompose the past/my past but one Guadeloupe. During this travel, I invite the onlooker, layer after layer and through concentric circles, to progress into a mental space, elliptic but insisting, while going all over the geographic space of the archipelago of Guadeloupe, where the photographs have been taken.

This project of a personal story comes equally into the scope of an identity assertion:
I needed to say a fair and right word about Guadeloupe.
By right, I mean close to the mixed, often ambiguous and painful identity of the people from Guadeloupe. In order to catch this right tone, I deliberately centered on particular details of the island, as well as on expressions and bearings that testify to the Guadeloupe I’ve perceived and lived in. Moreover, I chose from the beginning of the project to work with black and white photography, because I wanted to get as close as possible to a society still deeply concerned with skin colour matters.

The whole project expresses the idea of a pendulum movement between tension (strained and uncommunicative faces, dead or threatening animals, fragments of bodies, people’s back turned to the camera) and hope (shimmering light on the sea, beauty of the tropical nature, lighting effects, children play). While I took my pictures, I always stayed tuned to the silent tragedies brooding within the Guadeloupian society (identity wounds, weight of colonial history and racial discriminations). Those forces continuously struggle against the extraordinary vital strength of the people which pulls them all the same forward. The title of the work, Zeb’, is a metaphor for this state of uncertainty and ambivalence: it refers in creole to the weeds, beautiful but unwanted, that keep on growing and proliferating under the Tropics, while people keep on trying to get rid of them.

I’ve taken those photographs during three long stays in Guadeloupe: in 2003, 2005 and 2008.
Some pictures have been made with a documentary state of mind. Some are like the famous ‘madeleines’ of the French writer Marcel Proust, that is to say pieces or items encountered in the present time that aroused long forgotten memories. Some of them are found objects that have given form to mum or faceless sensations and emotions: these photographs developed the memories instead of recording and keeping it. Finally, some were staged.
When I came back to Paris, I worked on the editing as I went along and made different versions of the project, according to the numbers of pictures I had.

In February 2009, when the general strike led by the LKP (“group against the outrageous exploitation” conducted by the trade unionist Elie Domota) broke out in Guadeloupe, all the brewing but more or less muffled tensions at play within the island society, violently burst out and were outspoken. Deeply shaken and upset by the echoes of this major crisis, I put an end to the project and completed the editing of the pictures, as well as their final division in chapters. It was my political and artistic contribution to the essential work of rewriting the story of my home-island, while showing, despite everything, that its identity can still be harmonious.

Chapters

  1. Scratches
  2. Where the stars rose
  3. The breath
  4. Inmost values
  5. Leaving
  6. The lull
  7. Weeds
  8. The threat

History of the series

The video below was created in 2007 for the exhibition at House of World Cultures of Paris. It was the first version of the project. It was composed of 46 photographs and an original music created by Victor Bellaïch specially for the film. Click on the video below to watch it on Youtube.

 

Then the series grew and developed itself, taking the shape of 8 lines of pictures, each with its title, floating on the wall like lines of text or staves.

Since its beginning, Zeb’ has been exposed 9 times, in Paris and Brussels, either in its first version as a video, or in its final version composed of 72 analog prints organised in 8 chapters.

Solo shows

2013 Zeb’ - Médiathèque des Cités Unies, Savigny-le-Temple
2010 (auto) biographies - Espace Icare, Issy les Moulineaux
2009 Zeb’, ou l’identité rêvée – Bibliothèque Goutte d’or, Paris
2008 Zeb’, ou l’identité rêvée – Médiathèque Anne Frank, Déville les Rouen

Group shows

2009 Exposition photographique « Des ailleurs » - 8ème Festival du film documentaire Itinerrance aux Voûtes, Paris.
2007 Zeb’, ou l’identité rêvée - Festival Vibrations Caraïbes, Maison des cultures du Monde / Alliance française, Paris.
2005 (S)election, avec Paris photographique à l’Espace Beaurepaire, Paris.
2005 2èmes Rencontres Photographiques, avec le collectif de photographes Blowup
Centre Culturel Jacques Franck, Bruxelles.
2005 Wish you were here, avec Paris photographique à l’Espace Beaurepaire, Paris.