Paysans

              
I do not have a peasant background, at least not from the generation I remember.

My father was a rural district doctor, he went out to visit early in the morning to return in the evening, sometimes we could hear him going away in the darkness, in the depths of a forest perhaps, where are the most isolated farmhouses.

I grew up in a village in Aveyron, a valley dug by a river at the foot of the Aubrac mountains, a village-farm as the barns were numerous within the precinct of the village itself. You could hear the heavy wooden doors slamming, the streets spotted with cow dung on which open stables exhaled their manure breath became the territory of my childhood, so that the figure of the peasant did not cease to inhabit this part of my life, to shape the landscapes.

Today there are no stables in the village, the old barns have been abandoned or restored to become dwelling houses and farms pushed to the outskirts in the form of sheet metal sheds.

Two three times a year, there was a cattle market on the square of the church, an opportunity to see the village attracting many customers, curious persons in their Sunday best, farmers and cow dealers sunk in dark clothes and long negotiations in which one could see in turn the scowling looks, shouts of voices and rough handshakes, while the children amused themselves by brushing against the beast.

Many years later, I returned to live a time in this territory, to photograph it to build a long project on memory and transmission, and then on a very specific sideline, I wished to realize in 2015 a serie simply called "Peasants".

The idea was to recreate a studio in the precincts of the livestock market in Laissac, a locality in northern Aveyron where every Tuesday the second  french largest cattle market is held. With this in mind, I took over the installation of the famous American portraitist Irving Penn, consisting of placing the subject in front of two panels placed in a sharp corner, replacing the wooden partitions by two high metal plates which had rusted for weeks. Once done, I asked some farmers and cow dealers to pose the time of a photograph, using a  twin-lens reflex camera of the 70s, a Yashica Mat 124, from which I like the beauty and timelessness of the images.

Isolating the peasant in the fervor of the market to try to freeze a rough and beautiful image.