OF TRIBES AND MEN
By Jérôme Sans
Spanning several decades, the work of Anne de Vandière consists in a wide array of insightful investigations carried out around small stories that built up into larger ones. After having rerouted the art of the portrait by peering into the inner aspect of each person rather than their outer image, by focusing on their hands, she managed to make intimate stories emerge from these encounters, as well as to convey a universal dimension in terms of humanity. From one hand to another, Anne then became interested in the world of artisans and craftsmanship: these « petites mains » of Haute Couture, the small hands that serve the world of luxury, far from the glitter and the podiums, producing exceptional pieces. She puts the spotlight on these « hands in the shadows» that painstakingly create the incredible. By taking the time to tour workshops and leading luxury houses, she recorded in a methodical manner all these hands on the brink of disappearing from a world threatened by the norms of absolute profit. First of all, Anne enabled us to enter directly behind the scenes, the backstage of know-how, mirror of the exceptional creative world of French luxury. A true anthropology of the contemporary world, the photographer continues her work, recording know-how and endangered cultures, such as the last tribes fragilized by urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation. Archivist of the world, Anne de Vandière rebuilds, reversing the process launched by the infernal machine of the current post-industrial era. She tells the story of the world before modernity makes it disappear. Without any romanticism nor nostalgia, photography becomes the story of stories, the story of Humanity. From one tribe to many others.
Along the lines of Albert Kahn, a French banker who, between 1909 and 1931, sent out persons in more than 50 countries to photograph and film the Archives of the Planet, Anne de Vandière is fully aware of how foreign cultures are mandatory in terms of respect and peaceful relations between men. Perceiving her era as witness of a new mutation of society, a digital revolution, Anne de Vandière points out that each individual today only exists and recognizes himself through the notion of tribe: temporary tribes, plural tribes, forced to move, to disappear, or to undergo a mutation. As French sociologist Michel Maffesoli points out: We are in the era of tribes,
And what if Anne de Vandière were finally a photographer of ethereal patrimony?
Jérôme Sans is curator, co-founder of the Palais de Tokyo, art critic and currently co-artistic director for the Grand Paris Express.