Art and Photography

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersGreat Hiking Trails of the WorldH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaHow Art WorksI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNot My ShameNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPortraits of ResiliencePostmodernismprettycitynewyorkPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlayRXSame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe PervertThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?Why Comics?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
Time and SilenceReview - Time and Silence
by Caroline Halley des Fontaines
Te Neues, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Aug 12th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 33)

Caroline Halley des Fontaines is a young European photographer; she has a Master's degree in Law and Human Rights from University La Sorbonne in Paris.  Her first exhibition was in 2000, and she has had solo exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Los Angeles and Brussels.  This collection of black and white photographs shows local people in India, Tibet, Nepal, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Namibia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.  These pictures are very still, and they are beautifully posed, with careful attention to lighting and the flow of lines.  Des Fontaines shows people on their own or in small groups.  They are in traditional dress, and they almost never look at the camera.  The images are attractive and unusual, and as a whole they show considerable skill and determination.

At the start of the book is a poem by des Fontaines; it starts off as follows:

I followed your whispers across oceans and deserts.

In between times and silences,

I looked for you in unknown landscapes

that seemed only possible in the sacred imagination of painters.

It ends with

Sometimes I stare at the sky,

hoping secretly

to see a white bird born from the clouds,

the ancient Phoenix.

The images have titles such as "The Middle Path," "The Women and the Bird," "Memory," "The Angels," and the picture on the front cover, "The Old Lady."  So it is safe to say that this work has metaphysical and transcendent ambitions.  To confirm this, there is a small uncredited photograph just after the poem; it is hard to know what it shows, but it has writing at the bottom, saying "Remembering our place in the universe." 

The photographs are utterly without overt irony; they capture moments of peace, lovely coincidence, and unusual beauty.  Most of them seem carefully arranged or posed.  If they were in color, many of them could be Benneton advertisements; the fact that they are in black and white makes them a little cooler and less commercial. 

If I were to guess what des Fontaines is trying to do with these images, I would say that she is giving us a rarely seen view of people in other cultures, showing how handsome they are.  Most of us think of the Taliban, oppressed women, and a war-torn country when we think of Afghanistan, but she shows independent women in stunning settings; in "The Princess of Bamiyan" a woman covered from head to toe in her dark burka walks along an unpaved stone road in front of steep-sided mountains.  In "The Burka and the Hand," we see four women in Burkas from behind, with one placing her hand on the back of another.  We see the texture of the fabric close up, and it is a strange contrast of textures.  When we think of Kenya, we think of a country with a serious AIDS problem and awful poverty.  Yet in "The New Married," we see a couple in ceremonial dress, apparently sitting in a cave, lit by the a ray of sunshine from above, giving a picture of some mystery and wonder.  So des Fontaines is showing us people in their innocence, always with great dignity and self-possession. 

So the project here is interesting and worthwhile.  It is far removed from other photo-journalistic portrayals of the third world.  It does not try inspire pity for the plight of the poor, nor outrage at the effects that Western imperialism has had.  Des Fontaines seems to want us to recognize the essential humanity of people in other cultures, and to emphasize how attractive they are.

Nevertheless, the project is deeply flawed.  The position of the photographer here is one of tourist, bringing back her images from her travels.  The beauty of many of these images is far too decorative, or worse, relies on an aestheticized otherness.  Consider "Passage" from Tibet, showing shepherds and sheep in a valley covered with snow: it is an astonishingly dramatic images, with all lines pointing towards the center, but the people here are lost, appearing as details.  For another example, consider the cover photograph: an old woman with leathery shiny skin light brightly; the picture has high contrast, and we see many wrinkles.  If it were not for her bright eyes, it might be a death mask, and the image is quite eerie.  The subject appears so old as to be almost supernatural.  Or take "Memory," with a smooth-faced young man in the foreground, another man leading a camel slightly out of focus behind him, and Pyramids in the background.  Half the page just shows the desert and the Pyramids are hazy; the young man has his eyes closed, and he looks meditative.  The title of "Memory" suggests that he is recalling his heritage for a moment.  Des Fontaines is adopting a romantic stance to these other cultures, in a rigorously depoliticized context, and indeed giving her viewer the most clichéd of ethnic signs to clue them into what they are seeing.  Many of these images look like they might be odd stills from an Indiana Jones movie, or possibly one The Mummy series.  The quirky yet breathtaking beauty she finds in her subjects is at the expense of any individual understanding, and result in her subjects always remaining very mysterious and strange.  These pictures don't succeed in showing any common humanity, but rather turn her subjects into quasi-spiritual objects for us to gape at. 


© 2008 Christian Perring






Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716