Sète: “Love, a Siberian odyssey”, dive into the exhibition of Claudine Doury

“Love, a Siberian Odyssey”. From January 20 to April 9, 2023, the center of documentary photography – ImageSingulières de Sète presents the latest photographs of Claudine Doury, diving into the daily life of these little-known peoples bordering the Amur River in Siberia…

Claudine Doury, a French photographer and member of the VU agency represented by the In Camera gallery, presents the bitter testimony of these Siberian peoples who live in what she calls “the lands at the end of the world”..

My first visit was a real shock

“My first visit was a real shock.” In 1991, he first discovered these indigenous peoples of Siberia, as well as the Amur River, the starting point of a story that has lasted three decades. “I was surprised when I reached the edge of the River of Love. The waters were so muddy that I said to myself: my native Loire is more beautiful, what did I come here to do?”. Despite the blackboard and the great clash of cultures, it seems the magic of the river has overtaken the photographer. In the midst of modern concrete cities and this 4,000 kilometer long river, there was a form of life cut off from all distractions.

30 years of friendship

Claudine Douri considers herself eternally grateful to be able to share the daily life of these peoples, with whom she has been friends for thirty years. “I remember walking back along the River of Love with my baby in my arms in 1996…”

When she started thinking about this project in 2016, Claudine Dowry remembered some of the portraits she had taken of teenage girls at different stages of their lives during two previous trips. “I believe that when I photograph the people I spend some time with, I think about it for the rest of my life. That’s why I decided to go back there for the third time in 2018…”

Between the temporality and history of time

Through her travels and photographs, Claudine Douri reflects on temporality, the history of passing time for these peoples, and her own time in life. Despite being in an unfavorable geopolitical context, he does not give up hope to one day return to meet these peoples of Siberia and continue to write their history and thus his own. “I would say it’s a bit of my story through this exhibition and these photographs.”

Love – Mirror, Ous-Gour 2018

(Love – Mirror, Ous-Gour 2018)
Noon Free – Claudine Doury

“Some filmmakers are looking for realism. I try to do a little bit of the same with the arrangement and staging of my photographs.” The village of Ous-Gour, bordering the river Amour, also offers unique views. Claudine Doury took this photo on a summer evening on the banks of the Love River. In the foreground is Kostia, one of Andrey and Katya’s children. He appears to be waving a mirror reflecting a light, the nature of which the artist leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to determine.

Love – Summer Dasha, Nergen 2018

(Love - Dasha in the summer, Nergen 2018)

(Love – Dasha in the summer, Nergen 2018)
Free Lunch – Claudine Doury

On the other side of the lens, Dasha. The photographer explains that this girl’s face is covered with an incredible mystery: “she is more beautiful than beautiful, there is something completely mysterious about her that impresses me.” Behind this secret actually hides a great fragility, of course, due to the abandonment of his mother. We feel some kind of pain with this girl’s face and eyes. “I think we have an eternal face. Maybe photographing faces is rediscovering eternity…”

Love – Food, Bulava 2018

(Love - Food, Bulava 2018)

(Love – Food, Bulava 2018)
Free Lunch – Claudine Doury

“Many Siberians along the Amur River are professional fishermen. It is fishing that keeps people alive.” Some fish, such as the still life-like sturgeon shown in this photo, are inevitably positioned as quality food. Traditionally, the myth of the fish was associated with its skin. Some peoples made a lot of ceremonial clothes and made most of their items from fish skin. Today, fishing has become a more controlled and regulated industry.

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