I was immediately taken by the first image on the slideshow from Christophe Agou's In the Face of Silence featured on NPR's The Picture Show a few years back. It was a photograph of two horses and a duck on a foggy day. He elevated the picture by employing a layered and dynamic composition of an otherwise mundate and forgettable setting. I scrolled through subsequent images and they were equally strong both in content and composition. I made a note of his name. Later on, I found out that a book was published featuring this series and it won the 2010 European Book Awards.
A nice revelation and the most noticeable characteristic of the book was its grainy images-something that did not translate onscreen when I first viewed them. Although the film grain was a direct result from photographing in low lighting situations, it suited the narrative and established the mood for the project.The images were paced well with interesting combinations of gritty portraits, rich textural domestic details, handwritten notes and unexpected views of the rural landscape. What really drew me in was the emotional sensitivity of the series. Christophe's connection with the people and the land was evident and as a viewer, he successfully brought me right there with him.
Here is Christophe's own words describing the project:
In the winter of 2002, I began documenting the lives and emotions of French family farmers living in the Forez region, where I was born. I traveled to the lesser-known parts of this bucolic land, where I felt inspired by the silence I found and moved by the authenticity and charisma of the people I encountered. The more I saw, the more I wanted to immerse myself in their lives and reveal their hidden nature. This body of work is, to me, a meditation on the silence and solitude that seem ever-present in our lives.
Publisher: Dewis Lewis