Contemporary French Writing of the Photographic Image

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 14


June 30th, 2010





What do photographs want? Do they need any accompaniment in today’s image-saturated society? Can writing inflect photography (or vice versa) in such a way that neither medium takes precedence? Or are they in constant, inexorable battle with each other? Taking nine case studies from the 1990s French-speaking world (from France, North Africa and the Caribbean), this book attempts to define the interaction between non-fictional written text (caption, essay, fragment, poem) and photographic image. Having considered three categories of ‘intermediality’ between text and photography – the collaborative, the self-collaborative and the retrospective – the book concludes that the dimensions of their interaction are not simple and two-fold (visuality versus/alongside textuality), but threefold and therefore ‘complex’. Thus, the photo-text, as defined here, is concerned as much with orality – the demotic, the popular, the vernacular – as it is with visual and written culture. That text-image collaborations give space to the spoken, spectral traces of human discourse, suggests that the key element of the photo-text is its radical provisionality.

Andy Stafford’s book is a welcome and attractive publication to the fast-growing field of intermediality studies, and an exciting enrichment of a series that opens new ways in the study of postcolonial Francophony.

Leonardo Journal

The notes and the bibliography alone merit the acquisition of this work. A richer source on the topic of photo and text is difficult to imagine.
Hans Durrer, Across Cultures

Across Cultures

This is a densely written but highly readable book, an invaluable resource for students of photography and scholars interested in the relationship between photography and writing/speaking — or, indeed, in any configuration of image and text.
Akane Kawakami, French Studies, vol 67, no 1

Author Information

Andy Stafford is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Leeds and co-editor of 'The Modern Essay in French' (Peter Lang, 2005) among other publications.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
List of Illustrations
1. Image-text: From the ‘Photobook’ to ‘Photo-essayism’
2. Found Family Photos: Voicing in Anne-Marie Garat’s Essayism
3. My Favourite Piccies: Sequencing, Structuring and Essayism in Photo-Anthologies by Régis Debray and Denis Roche
4. Distance and Self in Raymond Depardon’s Errance
5. Regards croisés: The Moroccan City by Tahar Ben Jelloun
6. Fabulation in Fragments: Leïla Sebbar’s Algeria through the Photography of Marc Garanger
7. Patrick Chamoiseau and Rodolphe Hammadi in the Penal Colony: Photo-text and Memory-traces
8. ‘Paradis sans espoir’? Philippe Tagli’s ‘Photo-graffiti’ in the Parisian Banlieue
9. ‘La légende de l’histoire’: Bernard Noël’s Captions for Photography of the Paris Commune
Conclusion: Silence, Orality, History