Christine Bory’s Diplomatic Moves,
12 Star Gallery, London, review: a sense of duty, a sense of loss.
Canadian born, French photographer Christine Bory brings together a series of portraits of displaced people. Displaced not by war, famine or natural disaster, but by duty, service and love; these are the spouses of diplomats.
Displacement is a strong and emotive term, with current events including conflicts, terrorism, tragedy and even political shift, being causes of displacement and the sense of loss that displacement brings to the individual. In the photographic arena one might immediately consider Sebastiao Salgado, Walker Evans, perhaps Nick Ut, most certainly Dorothea Lange. But this exhibition is not a documentary project in that sense, but rather an antithetical depiction of hardship and poverty. The sitters are well dressed, in pleasant, even opulent, surroundings with little of the obvious signs of trauma which convey our stereotypical understanding of loss.
The initial impression is that each is a simple, classically constructed portrait of an ‘elite’ for whom travel and comfortable life come at our expense. Photographed in settings and attire they have selected personally, all seem at ease, confident, secure. As you view the work as a whole, however, it reveals an abstruse layering of privilege with that sense of loss, that could perhaps be more closely associated with the likes of Lange and Salgado.
The ladies in this exhibition, for currently only female spouses have been depicted, are photographed, one realises, not so much amongst the surroundings they choose, but in those personal ‘safe-havens’ that allow them to retain a little of their own identity. The work subtly focuses our attention to the elements of normality and consistency from which the sitters gain sanctuary within a life that is nomadic. Every other aspect of their lives and homes will be dictated by the masters of their loved ones.
Whilst most of us might view the list of destinations as enviable, this work presents a slow awakening to the concept of having to start afresh. These are ordinary people for whom duty, service and love of another will repeatedly bring them loss.
See christine’s work at www.artisformae.com