It should have been the Mississippi. But the Huveaune was more reasonable.
A few years ago I bought a book by Alec Soth entitled “Sleeping by the Mississippi”. From that moment on I tried to find a photographic project along a river. At first I thought I could make it to the Mississippi, but it wouldn’t have made sense.
So I gave a lot thoughts to that and many nights ! At that same time I was feeding the idea that the most important things that happen to us as human beings do not happen a thousand miles away but right here, before our eyes..These thougths naturally led me to photograph the Huveaune river, a river running a hundred meters of my home.
The Huveaune, is a tiny river running 48 km from Nans-les-Pins to Marseille, in the south of France. It is not the Amazon or the Colardo but it is not less mystical : it is said that the river is being fed by Saint Marie-Madeleine’s teardrops, bemoaning on her fate in Saint Baume’s cave, where she is said to have lived 33 years…
Beyond the factual and economic role of the river along the valley, it is the possibility of a poetic journey that attracted me…and this crazy plan they have in mind to cover up the river as it enters the city of Marseille ! “I will walk along the Huveaune” is a reaction to that plan.
Rivers like that, run all over the world. Yet how many of these rivers are neglected ? By location, the Huveaune is absolute rubbish. You’ll find everything inside and sometimes unbelievable things.
However, this is not what I want to photograph … or at least not frontally. I want to photograph the passage of man, his intervention and the changes these interventions operate on the environment …I want to see what it is to live along this river, so vital but so fragile.
I chose to photograph the people I meet along the way : let the chance take its course, the magic of a portrait like lilies on the surface of the water.
I am very thankful to all the people who gently accepted to be photographed. Without them, the project wouldn’t make sense at all.
Marseille, July 2014.