La cloison, le chantier des Archives
photographs by Arnaud Théval, texts by Emmanuel Hermange and Jean-Yves Petiteau
Architecture today is at the heart of the cultural debate. The public is updated on the projects of new buildings and inaugurations. But what happens between the two moments – what happens on the construction site itself – is very rarely described to them. Contemporary man suffers from the same amnesia when he goes to the Maldives islands: what matters is the take-off and the arrival on the lagoons, while the trip itself has lost any importance. Arnaud Théval’s project is interesting and welcome in so far as he does the opposite: for three years – from 2005 to 2008-the photographer followed the modernization works of the Archives of Loire-Atlantique. He used all the actors – workers, employees – on the site that had to learn to function under specific conditions. Secretaries, cement makers, archivists or scaffolding builders are systematically taken from behind. It is a shame that in the theoretical texts on this agreement there is no mention of John Philips, the American reporter photographer of the post-war period. He used this as his main means of operating. It is also a shame that this interesting window opened on a construction site does not act more as a documentary (which would not be incompatible with photographic creation): detailed captions would have allowed us to better understand each person’s role during this original phase.
• La cloison, le chantier des Archives, photographs by Arnaud Théval, texts by Emmanuel Hermange and Jean-Yves Petiteau, Zédélé publishing house, 2008, 288 p., 20 €, ISBN : 978-2-915859-12-6
Review published in the newsletter #115 - from 8 January 2009 to 14 January 2009