by Bernard Perrine
William Klein’s son Pierre, 47, is a director, photographer, and painter whose movies, books, and exhibitions have influenced cinema and photography. He grew up in the intensity of this vast heritage that seemed to carve out his future, after first turning away, he came back, attracted by the complexity of contact sheets and the information they revealed. Above all, he detected the sharp eye that provoked coherent results. Aesthetically, rather than confront the harsh contrasts of black and white, he dove into a world of color. His first commissioned work was for Jean-Paul Goude, allowing for his first step towards greater personal expression. In 2006, at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Pariscolor confirmed his artistic ambitions and pushed him towards the magnification of detail. “Elles vident leur sac” (Confessions of a Handbag), 2009-2010, the ultimate feminine accessory, was motivated by personal experience. “Watching a woman rifle through her bag looking for something to show me, I felt like I had become part of her life”. Seeing the items in that bag led to a photographic idea. The idea grew, and he quickly developed his project’s vision. “The photographer asked women who had no idea what he was working on, to empty their handbags. The contents would be photographed on a pink background not only because of its typically feminine connotation, but also because it best highlights the objects.” The project, however, wouldn’t be complete without accompanying commentary. Pierre Klein began working with pictures at 11 when he made his first 8mm movie, as such, his photos would naturally be accompanied by video clips. “Without comments, the project would be only 50 % complete, and in their absence, could easily be considered voyeuristic”. Before the camera, the women themselves sort out and comment on the contents of their bags. The photographer didn’t want mere still lives, he also wanted their stories. An artistic and sociological approach, he let the women talk. The bag’s elements generated conversation about the memories they evoked, the lives they represented, giving life to little mundane objects. From the handbag, this mysterious object, Pierre Klein continues to build his universe. And this series is not over yet, as it should transform into a book and a DVD in the next few months if all goes as planned.
Correspondant de l’Institut de France
The Polka Gallery and the Salon du Panthéon are featuring recent works by photographer-video artist Pierre Klein in a joint exhibition at the Salon du Panthéon through March 4, 2011.