«The Badger Photographer»

Thierry Maindrault’s monthly chronicle

Whether their name is Aesop, de La Fontaine, Perrault, or Orwell, writers have often wickedly enjoyed identifying us with our vices and our virtues with the animal family. The fox is clever, the ant remains a bit stingy, the heron seems repellent and the cat shows its independence and sensitivity – even with long steps. Today I will tell you about the badger. This animal is essentially characterized by its naivety and its ability to be plucked like a chicken, despite its less desirable hair.

What started out as a creative and sharp-witted photographer gradually became attentive and hard-working; then bold and passionate; and installed again in the high spheres of the Academy; to finally end up in the likeable but pathetic skin of our badger? In French slang, this poor badger is really and irrevocably the “simpleton” of our Canadian cousins.

As with any deception, in order for there to be a deceived victim, we need an unscrupulous profiteer. For many people who consider themselves photographers, the mechanism has been introduced in a methodical and multiplied manner over the past decade. It should be noted in passing that the unexpected arrival of the annoying little virus only improved the development of the system with the ability to dematerialize it. Let’s get back to our badgers, the clever little guys realized pretty quickly that the photo production has increased quantitatively very quickly, while the quality of the produced works of art has decreased in the same proportion. It became apparent that these new genius authors would need supports to distribute the contents of their box (actually hard drives). The picture rails of the galleries – with shop fronts – and those of the town halls are quickly overcrowded. The image hunter of the building, neighborhood or village was desperate not to be able to show “his masterpieces” to the admiring crowd.

Pa ni p’oblem man, as our Creole friends repeat. All is well for the cunning fox to easily catch money. The acquisition or renting of an empty shop (if possible in the city centre), an old, disused industrial building, an old dry swimming pool, a pretty hunting lodge, a pool house (for golf, horseback riding or tennis), all equipped very summarily (cracks, mold, cracks remain beautiful scenographic complements provided at no extra cost). The trap is ready. A little tour of the internet to find a loot… and then… Then the scenario is well acted out and perfectly oiled. A little email raving about your photographic work, which is that of a great unknown artist. We offer you to exhibit in a magical place, you prepare some prints that you have to send in with a sizable check (just to cover the cost, they say). A small financial addition if you want an opening, another to create a catalog as it should be for such an exhibition and as the icing on the cake, a small extension for a final apotheosis is essential. Among these short-term property owners who declare themselves gallery directors and readily adopt the title of curator is also, and often, a publisher of art books. Even if it means plucking our new badger, we mustn’t forget anything, because that would be too stupid. The making of a great book invites itself into the program while our brilliant photographer’s wallet goes flat. A discreet edition of a few copies – for the closest family circle – eats up the last savings. Not only the singer saw himself at the top…

Yes ! I have some good friends who are exhibiting at the Venice Biennale without really knowing what the Biennale is and without going to Venice. Others send their prints to a chic neighborhood in Paris without even checking the reality of the gallery. Expeditions to New York suffice them to their delight, unaware that their work will be hanging in a basement at a cul-de-sac for a short week; an extraordinary exhibition for a few thousand dollars. Nothing scares the badger who, after Paris, Basel, London, Barcelona, ​​​​​​Rome, is about to reach Tokyo, Seoul or Shanghai. To hell with greed, her exhibition listing on her website is so much more important than her own paintings. It’s still true that the listings often look a lot better than the works shown on the site.

Timeshare art dealers and pseudo book sellers have supplanted sleeper dealers. It should be noted that this seems much more lucrative and risk-free. As long as there are photographers wanting to play the big-headed badger, there will be a few wily foxes out to get rich.

The ideas and creations of veterans are gradually disappearing, and that’s a good thing, the processes have to evolve; But is it really necessary to be shorn like a pigeon? An objective reflection on your own research and your work is essential, the doubt must be justified before any investment. You should never pay to choose your photos, sometimes they really deserve better. Manage your negotiations, your hangings, your scenographies yourself (even if you seek the help of a competent professional to help you).

In summary, do exactly the opposite of what we are seeing this year at Arles Professional Week 2022!

Thierry Maindrault

July 08, 2022

Your comments on this chronicle and its photography are always welcome

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