In 1996, Yves Gellie began a series of trips to Irak. Working on assignments for famous magazines, he photographed a people who has lived under an embargo since the first Gulf war and a country plunged into a disastrous economic and social situation. Throughout the different trips, he travelled to almost every part of the Iraqi territory, and from 1999, pushed further to Syria and Iran, two countries who’ve played a direct part in the recent history of Iraq.
He slowly began to have doubts in front of the accumulation of visual documents reproducing the same stereotypes of a region hit by war, the same images of distress, poverty and suffering shot to arouse empathy and indignation. Gradually, Yves Gellie moved away from this conception of a concise image that is immediatly visible, loaded with the symbols of an event and an immediatly perceptible emotion.
Gellie works at bringing out the implicit beyond what he’s showing, at revealing the intimate in a public or collective scene. In truth, he is part of this fringe where the invisible arises from the visible; he explores the ambiguous relation between a photograph and reality and experiments the fictional power of an image.
Excerpt from her essay in the FOTOFEST2006 Catalogue.
YVES GELLIE Distinct Perceptions
Working on assignments for famous magazines, Yves Gellie photographed people who have lived under an embargo since the first Gulf war and a country plunged into a disastrous economic and social situation. Throughout the different trips, he travelled to almost every part of the Iraqi territory, and from 1999, pushed further to Syria and Iran. To cover the embargo in pictures, he isolates a detail of a worker’s dress on a shipyard in southern Iraq or the shoes of a surgeon at the entrance to an operating room of a hospital. The photographer’s idea is not to prove or denounce, but to show. In his images, he doen’t show acts of violence but rather the signs of human violence, the marks it leaves on objects, landscape or architectures.
Yves Gellie was born in Bordeaux, France, September 16th 1953. In 1981, he started photography with a work on cocaine in Colombia. After a World Press Award in 1986, he joined the Gamma agency for two years. He started drawing up a regional portrait of the Near East, including countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which history is closely linked to the recent evolution of Iraq.
His work on Iraq was exhibited at the Paris Institut du Monde Arabe (the Arab world institute), at the Paris Mois de la Photo (month of photography), at the International Festival of Lianzhou, at the Oeil en Seyne Festival, France, at the Dach Galerie Katia Rid, Munich, Germany, at the Franca Speranza gallery, Milan, Italy, 2003. He is the author of a photographic essay on Cambodia entitled La Pluie des Mangues, Marval Edition, Paris, and of a book on Iraq entitled Iraq(s), Marval Edition Paris.