Marc by Marc. That is the simple reason for my choice. Rather than talking about a photo I love among a thousand others. Rather than remembering the image of the Chinese woman with her glasses on top of her cap, one that made the cover of the first issue of Polka, which would have been an opportunity to thank him for this generous and amicable gesture. Rather than paying him tribute for his iconic “young girl with a flower”, one of the greatest photographs of the 20th century, since this image of impressive power and sensitive beauty has already become history. Rather than choosing among his photos that fairly breathe tenderness and poetry the one that, in my eyes, would constitute the most tender and poetic, for they all are. Rather, then, to choose a photo “by him”, I picked one “of him chosen by him”, which allows me to do what I prefer to do at this decisive moment: to talk about him.
For this photo shows him as he is, an elegant man. Elegant in his appearance, his dress, in the way he moved his body, so distinguished and so discreetly visible in this image. The elegance of a man who stands up straight, gesturing, as often he does—did—to the person approaching him—I’m imagining Catherine or Clémence walking towards him in the field behind their lovely home in the Touraine. And he is also gesturing to whoever looks at the image, looks at him, since he is part of the image. To you, to me. So Marc says hello to us from there, where he has been for the last few years, in a room, present but without a voice, yet nonetheless there in the room when one visits him in the rue Monsieur le Prince, but immobile, like a somber shadow on a white wall.
And next to the apparition of Marc is this monumental tree. Its reflection, projected on the ground, seems to reach towards the sky, its burned out branches emitting a kind of black smoke, like that of the blown up towers of Manhattan. And Marc is there, waving to us. Just as he was there, right near the towers, on September 11, 2001, the day the opening of his exhibition at the Leica gallery in New York was to have taken place in the evening. The gallery kept the poster, with his name in large print and “the” date in small, in tribute and as a souvenir.
Why speak of this tragedy at the World Trade Center, which flashes through my imagination in contemplating this image? Because the magic of Marc’s photos is, precisely, to liberate our thoughts, to allow us to seek references, richness, dreams, hidden things that, all of a sudden, appear without his, Marc’s, imposing them upon us.
That, I believe is his great elegance, which goes beyond appearances to reach the mind: to address to others, those who are looking, a bow, to leave in order to leave them alone to imagine what they believe they see. From now on, this photo is no longer his. He offers it to us in a discreet and generous gesture this shadow show seems to delineate. That is Marc. My friend. My “mate”, he told me, when he could speak.
Editor of Polka