Prix Nicolas Bouvier : Steeve Iuncker
Published by Le Bec en l’Air ten years after its completion, Steeve Iuncker’s Jeudi 15 h has just received the Prix Nicolas Bouvier. This is a harsh, head-on photo essay achieved with accuracy and clarity. In our contemporary, individualist society devoid of mysticism, death is looked over, forgotten, feared, caricatured, fantasized about, and sometimes rejected in favor of the tempting dream of immortality promised by science. But medicine has its limits, and all it can do here for Xavier is predict his approaching and inevitable death.
In these portraits, we witness the feverish steps towards his demise. Steeve Iuncker documented his subject’s two final years according to a strict ritual. Every Thursday at 15:00, Iuncker met with Xavier for a session where each in turn became photographer and subject . The emotions captured are induced more by life than by death: joy, rage, despair, play, denial, cruelty, and the irony of submitting oneself to a routine whose result will outlast both of them, a routine which, by force of habit, becomes as inescapable as death.
The systematic approach makes palpable the complex process of representation taking place in a portrait. Both play a role, consciously or not. The facial features deepen, the body slowly dies, the skin turns the color of ash, their expressions come alive or darken depending on their moods, invading the image as if only they remained, speaking the unspeakable. A few words from Xavier on his favorite photograph from each session adds to this study in portraiture, where only death is the limit.
“A jeudi 15 h”
Photographs by Steeve Iuncker
Text by Christian Caujolle
Editions Le Bec en l'air (2012)