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Jean-Christian Cottu : photographe de la dignité

Comment différencier tous ces gens rencontrés au cours de mes voyages de ceux que je connais depuis toujours et qui peuplent nos grandes cités modernes ? Un mot me vient à l’esprit : la dignité. Qualité qui n’a rien à voir avec la fierté, celle-ci dérivant de l’accomplissement d’un acte, d’une prouesse ou d’une œuvre.

Le studio photo (au Rajasthan)

C’est en réfléchissant au moyen de capter cette essence intemporelle que m’est  venue l’idée du studio photo pour isoler-et par conséquent identifier-les éléments subsistants d’un individu et garder ainsi la trace d’une humanité exclue de la civilisation contemporaine.  
Jean Christian COTTU
8, Allée des Noisetiers
33650 Saint Selve


Aidan McGLOIN’s commentary - In 10 or perhaps 15 years, most if not all of these former Konyak head-hunters and their wives will be dead. Their faded, tattooed adorned faces will be buried beneath Christian headstones in hilltop villages in the remote Mon district of Nagaland in Northeast India.  With their demise, the living memories of their unique cultural existence will disappear for eternity.

These elderly men and women have lived through a time when tribal warfare still resolved certain territorial conflicts. Their backs, torsos and facial tattoos bear witness to mortal combat and the customary trophy head-hunting. They were born into and inherited a strong tribal identity, which extended to the physical boundaries of their lands. They will die having intermittent access to limited aspects of modernity, and having partially embraced a Baptist based Christianity.

 Jean-Christian COTTU’s photographs provide a visual record of these people. These are not anonymous, stolen images, as is too often the case. Importance is rightly given to the names, ages, and villages of origin of these people. These images are by no means the only record of these former warriors and their families, but by taking a mobile photo studio, Jean-Christian wanted to go beyond the superficial cliché and instead capture the human dignity of these disappearing people. Each photograph is the result of a material exchange, in the form of a printed copy of their photograph or a monetary one, in the form of a few hundred rupees, and on occasions both.
 But the encounters were not merely restricted to nominal transactions. Our mutual curiosity was rewarded with undeniable human exchanges for both parties and some honest interviews. The elderly people have had a long unscripted past, a challenging transitional present and a diminishing curtailed future. These images, text, and audio files attempt in a limited way to explain who the Konyak people we met are, and to expose a fraction of their respective stories.

Mécénat | Pro bono | RSE (Responsabilité Sociale des Entreprises)