In more than two years that I have been studying photography in the OCA I found some really fascinating photographers, some of them have surprised me because of the use of a new and strong visual language, some others for the simplicity of their proposasl, and others precisely for the opposite, to exhibit in their pictures a infinity of details and creating exuberant compositions in content and meanings.
Today I find the work of Julien Germain, which really has surprised me. The proposal of this photographer is linked to his social commitment, his involvement with the community to which he somehow dignifies and gives voice through his photography. I’m thinking, for example, about his project in collaboration with Patricia Acevedo, Murilo Godoy and the street children from the favelas of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, which resulted in the printing of a newspaper publication that made their work visible to an audience greater than would be achieved in the hall of a museum.
Other projects in this line are the portraits of entire classrooms, made in different schools around the world, the “No Mundo Maravilhso do Futebol” project also made in the favelas of Brazil, and the newspaper Ashington District Star as a means to recover and to enhance the values of a community that had long ago shown social and artistic concerns through a local collective of painters.
All these are long-range projects, which the artist has developed over long periods of time. In my opinion, these projects are built on a genuine social background, far from any commercial or opportunistic interest. The artist states in a talk that the camera is an instrument that allows him to establish social relationships with other people. Here we are not talking about photojournalism; I believe that the scope of these projects goes further, and would even dare to classify them as anthropological studies made from within the communities under investigation.
Another interesting example where Germain is “inculturated” with the subject, establishing a relationship of complicity that becomes really evident in the final result, is the project “For Every Minute You Are Angry, You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness”, where he photographed to Charles Snelling for a period of 8 years, in a work that invites us to look at the philosophy of life of a simple person. I believe that work not only has a point of tenderness, but that it suggests that a calmer view of life is possible.
Julian Germain ‘for every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness’ project (no date) Available at: http://www.juliangermain.com/projects/foreveryminute.php (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Fabrica Gallery (2012) Julian Germain – artist talk. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScSKWsfr1ds (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Jay Finlayson (2015) Interview with Julian Germain. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIxDsd_aDmU (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Ashington District Start (2016) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp_ls5lhDpA&t=186s (Accessed: 6 December 2016).