Journal of Romance Studies

Portrait of a nation: Depardon, France, photography

Journal of Romance Studies (2008), 8, (1), 19–30.

Abstract

In 2003, Raymond Depardon was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture to tour the country and produce a photographic portrait of the nation. By the time of its completion in 2008, the project will have been funded to the tune of some 400,000. This article investigates Depardon’s photographic ‘Tour de France’. Its aim in the first instance is to explore the images of the country he has produced on his travels; but in doing so, it addresses the broader set of questions raised by the project about the place of photography in the contemporary French cultural order. Firstly, it considers the central role ascribed to photography by the country’s cultural and political institutions as a way of tracking and representing national identity and regional difference. Secondly, it investigates what the project reveals about Depardon’s own place in France’s cultural and photographic star system, as he transforms himself into an itinerant, state-sponsored investigator of that identity.

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Frank, Robert (1959) The Americans (New York : Aperture). The Americans Google Scholar

Guerrin, Michel (2004) ‘Depardon, arpenteur politique de l’Hexagone’, Le Monde (26 February), 28. Depardon, arpenteur politique de l’Hexagone Le Monde 28 Google Scholar

Guigueno, Vincent (2006) ‘La France vue du sol: une histoire de la mission photographique de la Datar (1983–1989)’, Études photographiques 18 (May), 97–119. La France vue du sol: une histoire de la mission photographique de la Datar (1983–1989) Études photographiques 18 97 119 Google Scholar

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Jäger, Jens (2003) ‘Picturing nations: landscape photography and national identity in Britain and Germany in the mid-nineteenth century’, in Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination, ed. Joan M. Schwartz and James R. Ryan (London: I. B. Tauris), 117–40. Picturing nations: landscape photography and national identity in Britain and Germany in the mid-nineteenth century Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination 117 40 Google Scholar

Kaplan, Louis (2005) American Exposures: Photography and Community in the Twentieth Century (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). American Exposures: Photography and Community in the Twentieth Century Google Scholar

Laderman, David (2002) Driving Visions: Exploring the Road Movie (Austin: University of Texas Press). Driving Visions: Exploring the Road Movie Google Scholar

Lodge, R. Anthony (1993) French: From Dialect to Standard (London: Routledge). French: From Dialect to Standard Google Scholar

Morel, Gaëlle (2006) Le Photoreportage d’auteur: l’institution culturelle de la photographie en France depuis les années 1970 (Paris: CNRS Éditions). Le Photoreportage d’auteur: l’institution culturelle de la photographie en France depuis les années 1970 Google Scholar

Robert-Diard, Pascale (2005) ‘Les bouts de France de Raymond Depardon’, Le Monde (10 June), 14. Les bouts de France de Raymond Depardon Le Monde 14 Google Scholar

Schwartz, Joan M. and James R. Ryan (eds) (2003) Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination (London: I. B. Tauris). Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination Google Scholar

Stimson, Blake (2006) The Pivot of the World: Photography and its Nation (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press). The Pivot of the World: Photography and its Nation Google Scholar

Tagg, John (1988) The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (Basingstoke: Macmillan). The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories Google Scholar

Vestberg, Nina Lager (2005) ‘Photography as cultural memory: imag(in)ing France in the 1950s’, Journal of Romance Studies 5.2 (Summer), 75–90. Photography as cultural memory: imag(in)ing France in the 1950s Journal of Romance Studies 5.2 75 90 Google Scholar

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Author details

Welch, Edward

Welch, Edward