United for the forgotten stories

14 December 2017   •  
Written by Emma Bubola
United for the forgotten stories

Faux amis (French for False Friends) is a photographers collective. Lucie Pastureau, Lionel Pralus, Hortense Vinet, the founders and only members, are real friends. They met at arts school and decided to combine their skills and ideas, at the service of bygone tales. 10 years later, we discussed one of their latest project with them, Le Coeur c’est pour l’amour (The heart is for love).

We are like old books that people don’t read anymore” an elderly woman told Hortense Vinet, member of the collective Faux Amis.  This melancholic lady lived in a retirement home in the French region Seine et Marne, and she gave the “Faux Amis” the final push for embarking on a new project. From 2013 to 2015 the photographers spent months in this elderly home, opening “old books”. They spent their time taking portraits of the dwellers, and talking with them for hours on end.“In the beginning we were told that it was going to be hard, because these people wouldn’t feel comfortable having their picture taken” said Hortense, “but soon we realized that by getting ready for the portrait, they felt important, worth the attention, and it was very good for them”. The setting of each shot was designed together with the subject, the scenography recalling one specific memory of theirs. “When they had Alzheimer, we would talk about a particular taste, a smell”.

Reviving images

It is thanks to memories and familiar tales that Lionel, Lucie and Hortense got together in the first place. Young students, victims of fascination for the ancient and the forgotten, they found companionship in each other. These three photographers realized that they were moving towards a common direction, and decided to jump on the same boat. They work at the frontier between documentary and fiction, because memory is a combination of subjective history and realistic inventions. All equally infatuated with family albums, they make great use of archive pictures. They use visual arts as a magnet to bring unconscious memories to life. In 2015 they created “Incipit”, an art installation aimed at reviving the memories of French towns. In Bray Sur Seine, a village in the South of France abandoned for years by its candy factory, they painted “J’ai rêvé d’un palais de sucre” (“I dreamed of a sugar palace”) on the walls of an old building. Faux amis are visual archeologists of memories, a crew you’d be lucky to run into.

Mme Codant from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
« À l’époque j’avais fait une école de sténodactylo. Pour m’entraîner, mon père m’avait bricolé un clavier avec des bouchons de liège. Je tapais à toute vitesse ! »
Mme Codant
M. Dufour from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
Une plongée dans les souvenirs de résidents d’une maison de retraite.
“C’était mon premier jour de travail, j’avais 16 ans. On m’a donné un bleu de travail tout neuf, tout beau, j’étais très fier. Mais la première chose qu’on m’a demandée, c’est de déplacer un immense tas de charbon. Après ça, mon bleu n’était plus très bleu !” M. Dufour

Mme Masson from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amisM Le Fol. From "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis

Monsieur Cordovi from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
“À la fin d’une promenade en région parisienne, avec mes parents, on s’est arrêtés pour se reposer dans un café. Le patron écoutait de la musique classique. J’avais 5 ans et ça m’a donné une grande passion. Ça ne m’a jamais quitté, j’ai commencé à grandir avec la musique, c’est devenu sacré. J’ai une tête énorme, pleine de tous les disques que j’ai écoutés. Ça m’a été donné et j’essaie de le transmettre.”
Monsieur Cordovi
Mme De Angelis. From "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
“J’ai acheté mon premier rouge à lèvres à 15 ans, « Rouge baiser ».
Je n’en ai jamais changé, je le porte encore aujourd’hui.” Mme De Angelis

Monsieur Camacho from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis

Mme Minatzaganian from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
“J’étais dessinatrice de mode, dans un atelier, rue Saint-Honoré. Je faisais aussi la teinture des tissus. Je me souviens d’un tulle que je devais teindre en vert (c’est le plus difficile). Je l’ai si bien réussi que tout le monde m’a félicitée.”
Mme Minatzaganian
Mme Dathé from "Le coeur c'est pour l'amour" © Faux amis
“J’ai la mémoire qui s’en va, alors je suis obligée de tout noter : ce matin j’ai fait mon lit, j’ai ouvert la fenêtre. J’écris au crayon de bois, comme ça, si j’ai besoin de gommer…” Mme Dathé

Images from “Le coeur c’est pour l’amour” © Faux amis

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