Le funambule, Les Grandes Vacances

1977, Printed 2006
Fresson photograph

Signed, titled, and editioned ‘6/40’ in multicolored pencil verso.

Bernard Faucon was one of the first photographers to master the constructed image in which he created photographic mise en scène that convincingly distort reality.

The scene Le funambule is a part of Faucon’s Les Grandes Vacances series composed in the late 1970s becoming a pioneering series of subjective reality photographs that would push the genre to the forefront in the 1980s. Faucon’s method in this enigmatic and nostalgic series was to employ both mannequins and sometimes actual children to create intricate staged scenes that reflect oftentimes playful, yet ominous situations from an idyllic childhood. These scenes are dreamlike but are not entirely innocent. The unusually memorable and striking compositions from this series subtly evoke heightened feelings and emotions, which could be linked to memories of our own childhoods.

On the surface of Le funambule specifically, the child tightrope walker surrounded by an audience of smiling onlookers is engaged in the challenge of walking the length of the precarious line. Another look at the constructed scene evokes feelings of the youth on an unstable walk through childhood’s both tranquil and oftentimes challenging situations while also straddling a place between a child’s real and imagined world. The subjective reality created by Faucon dovetails both time and experience.

Faucon chose to develop his photographs including Le funambule using the highly exclusive and controlled method of color printing known as Fresson printing. This method of printing produces an image that is characteristically diffused and subtle making it one of the most painterly of photographic processes considering the colors are each applied separately and seem to float one atop another. It is also considered to be the most archival and stable of any color processes used today.