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9 months ago

Diplomatic World_nummer 56.

Une Femme Note hi-17289

Une Femme Note hi-17289 A chaque fois qu’on passe devant une publicité sur laquelle une femme est représentée, comme toutes ces pubs pour les produits de coiffure, M. Khiar demande très sérieusement « Qui est cette femme ? ». C’est son sens de l’humour. On voit des milliers de femmes anonymes promouvoir des produits. M. Khiar est très gentleman, très classique, il est protecteur vis-à-vis des femmes. Un jour, je lui ai dit que les femmes pouvaient très bien se défendre seules. Il l’a mal pris, il m’a dit que je ne comprenais rien.

DIPLOMATIC WORLD GLOBAL ART FORUM JEROEN R. KRAMER UNE FEMME The central figure in Une Femme is composed of different characters. There is Khiar, a handsome, elderly Lebanese gentleman who lives in Beirut, a city scarred by decades of religious tension. The wars that arose from those tensions do not appear in the book, but we sense the presence of an ‘elephant in the room’. Then there is the photographer, who makes images of traffic lights changing, or of the planters that are found everywhere in Beirut, and who finds beauty in a pile of sand or in the banality of a barber’s sign or a grocer’s shop full of food. ABOUT Jeroen Robert Kramer (°1967, Amsterdam) lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After studying French literature in France, in 2000 he started working in the Middle East as a documentary photographer for Getty Images, de Volkskrant, Der Spiegel, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and others. His photographs were used in articles on the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Philippines. “I want to make work about ordinary life. I want subtlety, poetry, the gentleness of the banal. I’ve had enough of the spectacular, of what I did when I was working for the New York Times,” says the photographer to Khiar. He wants to transform ugly memories of war into art, and to go from shocking spectacle to silence. We are given no portraits of either protagonist; their presence is evoked by photographs of their surroundings, the marks on an abandoned drinks glass, a glimpse of someone’s back in a plastic chair, or photos of cats. When Khiar shows that he is not interested in having his picture taken, for the photographer their friendship becomes an obsession; he starts photographing hundreds of objects from Khiar’s house. But are these really Khiar’s things? Is the old gentleman in fact an idée-fixe, a composite, the photographer himself, or some sort of alter ego? “C’est le prix à payer pour avoir vécu sur la misère des autres” (That’s the price you pay for having lived off other people’s misery), says Khiar, after the photographer relates a terrible nightmare. Or do these thoughts actually come from his own mind? After an unremitting study of life and death in the barren, war-torn Middle East, his work began to reflect his inner struggles with human fallibility, aesthetic constraints, and the harsh perceptions of his profession. In 2008 Kramer decided to stop working as a documentary photographer and in war zones, and to embark on a new, more poetic journey. This led to the book Room 103 (2010), in which images of daily life in the Middle East are intermingled with images of terrible violence. This book won the Dutch Doc Award and the New York Photo Book Festival Award. In 2012 Kramer published the book Beyrouth Objets Trouvés, which in retrospect he regards as a preliminary study for Une Femme. Une Femme Published by Editions Flatland and Jeroen R. Kramer Softcover, 154 x 220 mm, 344 pages First Edition of 333 Second Edition of 667 ISBN 9789490503055 Design by Jeroen R. Kramer Printing and production by Bruno Devos at Stockmans Une Femme shows that ‘truth’ is irrelevant. Une Femme is an enigmatic and evocative story with a remarkable dénouement. It is also a beautiful exhibition, in which the present and the past are interwoven in Jeroen Robert Kramer’s poetic photographs of Beirut. Pages 136-140 Une Femme © Jeroen R. Kramer 141