Nostalgie du présent


The Simon Gang Children's faces, funny or moving, catch the eye throughout the pages of Simone Simon's book, Nostalgia of the Present. But these are not simple portraits: these faces are confronted with those of the adults they have become. Most of them are artists or actors who bring an additional dimension, because their gaze of today and yesterday is imbued with the same intensity or the same light. The off-camera, nestled in the interstices of the real and the imaginary, is what first strikes you in a photo. Through a mirror effect, Simone Simon offers us a greater mystery: what happened between the two photographs taken several years apart? This confrontation raises a troubling question: is it not the child who already bears the image of the adult? Is it not the child who contains his own future that he projects through an aura, like a clairvoyant? And if it is usual to say that the adult carries in him the memory of the child he was, the work of Simone Simon gives us to think the opposite. By a kind of temporal paradox, a reversal of the arrow of time, the memory of the adult's becoming is contained in the child's face, including the future erosion of time and this unbearable passage from smooth to rough. As if time did not exist, at least not in the way we imagine it. As if everything was already written. As if the child, in spite of his innocence, was already old, worn out by the weight of the adult he will become.
The two images come together in the manner of a Möbius strip (1). They form an endless path around an invisible epicenter: the history of an existence, the welding of two masses located in two different time-spaces. These double portraits evoke M.C. Escher's engraving (2), Lien infini: two spirals unite to draw two faces, and their foreheads intertwine, forming a double unity, creating an unexpected relationship between the famous Möbius strip and the double helix of DNA.

Between these two photos, the "imprint" that we guess is "phenomenal" in the Kantian sense of the word, insofar as it belongs to the domain of sensitive reality in space and time, but also phenomenal in the prodigious sense of the word: the prodigy of what remains imperceptible, lurking at the heart of the innate and the acquired.
Nostalgia for the Present - a title that refers to a text by Paul Auster3 - is not only an astonishing and magnificent collection of photos, it is also a reflection on the scars of memory, and perhaps also on the mystery of life. A beautiful book to steal pieces of eternity. 

Jean-Christophe Pichon (1) - Möbius (August Ferdinand), German astronomer and mathematician (1790-1868).
(2) - Escher (Maurits Cornelis), engraver (1898-1972).
(3) - The Invention of Solitude.

Jean-Christophe Pichon
(1) - Möbius (August Ferdinand), astronome et mathématicien allemand (1790-1868). 
(2) - Escher (Maurits Cornelis), graveur (1898-1972).
 (3) - L’Invention de la solitude.
 Exposition des photographies issues de l’ouvrage à la FNAC, Monaco, en 2006
Bernard Pagès
Renaud Layrac
Ben Vautier
Natacha Lesueur
Cécile et Anne Pesce