Journey to the heart of the France of the fields, mysterious and fragile

    Journey to the heart of the France of the fields, mysterious and fragile

    The photographer Éric Tabuchi and the painter Nelly Monnier set out to immortalize the buildings of the French countryside and towns before they disappeared. Their Atlas of natural regions watch “France as we had never seen it before”, the British daily enthusiastically The Guardian.

    From the industrial north to the sunny south, Eric Tabuchi has spent twenty years dissecting French landscapes with a diligent eye. In 2008, this French photographer, of Danish-Japanese origin, created a fascinating series of 26 photos, called Alphabet Truck, showing the back of trucks each adorned with a gigantic letter, from A to Z. In 2017, he produced an atlas of shapes, a sum of 256 pages representing all the shapes – from the pyramid to the polygon – constituting the bases of buildings around the world. Also in 2017, he joined forces with the painter Nelly Monnier, also his companion, to create theAtlas of natural regions [consultable sur Internet à cette adresse].

    This ambitious project of mosaic portrait of a nation draws on the limits of the 500 and some natural regions *, or non-administrative regions of hexagonal France (which are somewhat the equivalent of English counties). Monnier and Tabuchi take their time, trying to get to a place with as little prejudice as possible. The first impressions are decisive, the principle being to photograph some typical landscapes, then to go up the trail of the local architecture – the whole being shaped by the local conditions.

    We see stunning photos of the two artists sitting on maps covering the entire floor of their living room, busy planning their route through suburbs, semi-industrial areas, deserted towns and forgotten villages. Each region is the subject of fifty photographs; in the end, the project will count 25,000 images, all centered and soberly lit, as elegant as they are descriptive.

    When the health crisis erupted, Monnier and Tabuchi were in the Massif Central. Unable to continue their journey, they started to select certain photos to upload them. The result is a searchable map, a sort of digital museum of France – or at least half of France – where the images can be sorted by theme (agriculture, religion, business, leisure) but also by color, shape. , pictogram or series. The couple even plans to publish a paper version of their atlas, a volume that should be around 9,000 pages.

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    Independence and quality characterize this title born in 1821, which houses some of the country’s most respected columnists. The Guardian is the leading journal for the intelligentsia, teachers and trade unionists. Center-left oriented, he is very critical of the Conservative government.
    Unlike other leading British dailies, the newspaper has chosen an open access site, which it shares with its Sunday edition, The Observer. The two press titles went into tabloid format in 2018. This decision was part of a logic of cost reduction, while The Guardian had been losing money over and over again for twenty years. A strategy that pays off: In May 2019, the managing editor, Katharine Viner, announced that the newspaper was profitable, a first since 1998.

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