All posts by Benjamin de Diesbach

Nuit-Debout

Stand up – Night

Under a warm April sun, I went to the place de la République, in Paris. It was the end of an afternoon, I was trying to understand the Nuit-Debout (The Stand up-Night). Neither approving nor condemning, but seeing this movement as it was, this village fair, astonishing and irritating.
Nuit_debout-1 On the Place, one talks tremendously, in small groups or in assemblies, some are making sketches, others are cooking or singing or consulting with lawyers. In total, one wants to PARTICIPATE ! “Participation” is the major trend behind social networks success. Like Facebook, Nuit-Debout is a fun mess, as fun as the desire to express oneself.

Nuit_debout-220 or 30 people meet to create a commission. These are big in number and diverse in nature: Action commission, Camping commission, Stand Sketching commission etc. … Here, the Digital commission is opening a debate: RECONSTRUCTING DEMOCRACY, why, how and with whom. A huge debate, anchored by Richard Stallmon, the creator of the free softwear movement.

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Nuit_debout-5Debout-Choir / Protest songs Workshop. A time for me to rediscover old French songs. Before the event of mass media, songs used to communicate information. There were songs about everything: prison, strikes, fires, shipwrecks.

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Nuit_debout-8Each evening, the general meeting attracts hundreds of people. Speakers follow each other continuously, talking for two or three minutes. Struggles concerning intermittent workers, feminists, union members. The community restaurant interrupts the flow: “We need a gas bottle. Does anyone have one?”

Nuit_debout-9Is this what a revolution looks like? A torrent of words, the intense need to express oneself ? I remember how Tocqueville remembered the 1848 revolution. Also in my mind, Willliam Klein’s movie on May 68 : “Big nights and tight mornings” (“Grands soirs et petits matins”). The same scenes now and then: people talking to people they don’t know. Strangers listening to each other and reconstructing the world.

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Nuit_debout-13Cut-out pieces of paper and coloured pencils. In the République village, one listens to all opinions and one has fun in creative workshops. Against uniform thinking and forms, one attitude: “I WAS THE ONE WHO DID IT”.

Nuit_debout-15Nuit-Debout invents a language for assembly participation. To show one’s approval, one elevates one’s two arms and one agitates one’s wrists. Other signs indicate disapprobation, the desire to speak, the wish for silence …

Nuit_debout-16Impaired-hearing people are numerous at Nuit-Debout. They fight for better access to all communication means. 500.000 hearing-impaired and blind people cannot make a phone call because of their state. They want telecom operators to create centres for relay phoning. These would transcribe simultaneously a conversation into sign language or in a multimodal way.

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Nuit_debout-18I am impressed by the scale of the mobilisation and by its diversity. All the professions seem to be at Place de la République: doctors, lawyers, cooks. Under the protection of an awning, a tv station has been created. At the entrance, one reads a scrawl: “Don’t enter, show in process.”

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Nuit_debout-20The inescapable media person. A bit worn out and disoriented, waiting for a violent occurrence or for anything to happen.

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(Français) Contre la loi travail

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Sors tes pinceaux

Manif_9_avril-1Par un samedi pluvieux, je me  glisse dans la manifestation contre la loi El Khomri. Mon but : faire des photos et satisfaire ma curiosité. Rapidement Je suis pris par l’énergie du mouvement. Ici, on est loin de la laideur. Loin des gros ballons obèses et des casquettes criardes made in CGT. Ici, on est avec la jeunesse : des banderoles bric-broc et des slogans aussi poétiques qu’absurdes : « Grève Générale ! Abolition du travail ».

Manif_9_avril-2Depuis quelques jours, j’écoute les langues qui commentent l’événement. Tout me semble faux : l’aspect éphémère du mouvement, l’angle purement économique… Il se passe quelque chose de plus profond. Une volonté de sortir du conformisme général qui touche tous les domaines de nos vies : l’information, les arts, la vie en commun. Derrière le discour prêchi-prêcha contre le capitalisme et le patronat, Il y a un grand désir d’affranchissement. Un souffle de liberté.

Manif_9_avril-45 euros : la merguez la plus chère du quartier. Chère mais tellement bonne ! Cette cuisine saine et légère est l’oeuvre de laborieux commerçants qui, tout en étalant la moutarde, scrutent avec inquiétude l’arrivée de la police.

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Manif_9_avril-11 Philippe Martinez, le secrétaire général de la CGT, en tête de cortège, prêt pour la photo ! Moustache et ses gros bras sont à la pointe du combat. Toutefois où se trouve la CGT en fin de manifestation ? Le mystère demeure. Quand la baston, façon jeu du cirque s’en donne à coeur joie, les people ont disparu. On pense alors à Léo Ferré : “Et le beau syndicat qui reste à la maison, ce sont les Marx Brothers oubliés par Lénine, En mille neuf cent dix-sept Place de la Nation”.

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Manif_9_avril-13Des jeunes étudiants italiens et communistes. Ma ché ! quelle ambiance dans la foule. Charmants et élégants ils ont poussé la chansonnette “Bella ciao”. L’esprit des partisans étaient parmi nous. On les imaginait avec leurs grands chapeaux et leurs armes automatiques. Dans une manif qui se respecte, il faut toujours avoir des communistes italiens.

Manif_9_avril-14L’artiste en quête de public. Il y a un aspect carnaval et grand-guignol dans ce mouvement qui me plait beaucoup. Ici, on ne se prend pas au sérieux, on se lance dans n’importe quelle création. La contestation version “Gore”.

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Manif_9_avril-17A ce stade de la manifestation, on plonge dans la bêtise la plus noire. Photo des casseurs, attirés par la violence comme les mouches sur la bouse. Détestables crétins, lâches et cruels qui éructent de joie à Bastille lorsqu’un policier est blessé par un lancer de fusée. Ultra minoritaires, ils sont toutefois sur-représentés dans les médias.

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If Love endured

If love endured

As I get older, I am more and more conscious of the beauty of the photos made by my mother. As a photographer during the Sixties, she had a keen eye able to seize moments of our family life.

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Here I am on my father’s shoulders, during a walk in a forest in Normandy. I appreciate especially the scrutinizing look of my older sister, Stella. She is certainly wondering what I did to merit this royal place. The art of photography is to seize these instant and vanishing moments.

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The fascination that photography exerts on me comes certainly from its power of transmission. An image needs no words to express a feeling. No words are needed to express the love between the members of a family. I invite you to look at my family photos :
http://benjamindediesbach-mariage.com/famille?lang=en

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Friends First

Friends first

As a kid in the Seventies, I looked at the Beatles albums (The red and the blue) with admiration and dread. My admiration was for the « young and beautiful » side of the album. Close shaven at the beginning of the Sixties, John, Paul, George and Ringo were for me the incarnation of elegance. My dread was directed to the other side when, turning the album around, I saw the four as long haired, sloppy hippies.

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During a few vacation days in November, I met with my old friend Yves Lagesse. Imitating the Beatles, we remade a photo shot 25 years ago, in the same place. A thought then came to me : one never makes as many photos with people we love as we should. Morality : give more work to photographers !

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