Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr
General Inspector for Photography French ministery of culture.
Born in 1974, Samuel Bollendorff belongs to a generation of photographers who,during their formation, were trained to handle content as well as form. At the Louis Lumière school he mastered the technical side of photography. His art history studies gave him an eye for observation, while his stay at the Fine Arts School of Paris made him think about how to formulate his work.
The press quickly entrusted him with long and important subjects for reflexion : the police, hospitals and schools. He elaborated on these subjects by questioning the place of the individual in the public sector, notably the freedom accorded to them.
His methods naturally gave rise to the voices of his interlocutors by way of his documentary films about hospital geriatric services or the daily life of two Parisian housing estates.
While he is concerned foremost with images, he is always mindful about integrating the captions which can clarify and explain his work and, as a pledge of sincerity, including the thoughts and words of his subjects. Little by little, he questions and analyzes the form these texts might take, either printed in publications or captions in an exhibition.
We see in his work his profound concern in favouring a narrative form, thus giving his images an increased weight and importance, yet never neglecting a harmonious rythmn between text and image.
In response to the Ministry of Culture and Communication and Visa pour L’Image, he documented, at great length, the forgotten people of the Chinese economic expansion and decided to build his work around three fundamental ideas : physical and cultural uprooting, confinement and enslavement. In China the displaced farmers, hounded from lands cultivated for generations, are forced to abandon their traditions, their land and their history. They have also been forced to send their children to work in dangerous and almost inhuman conditions be it the mines for the or in factories for the girls where they will lose all hope and sometimes lose their lives.
To evoke this painful period,Samuel Bollendorff has created meticulous, well controlled images, paying particular attention to attitude, movement and light as in a sequence shot wherein context and psychological tension is explicit. It is not without reason that he has rapidly become a major talent in the new photographic wave which is the New Documentary.