"What is a father? What is a son? What bond links them? Blood? Love? Legacy? Inheritance? I photograph fathers, 30 to 80 years old, standing up, bare-chested, with their son, months-old for the youngest or already in their fifties for the eldest. They are close, often skin to skin. Looking at these portraits, you search for similarities. You scrutinize the facial features, compare the gestures and attitudes. You imagine a story. Attempt to discover the secret of a relationship. Nudity disturbs and scrambles the clues a bit."
-- Grégoire Korganow
Grégoire Korganow is a photographer committed to images drawn from the real world. He shows things from the side of the oppressed, the unseen – those living in substandard housing (1994), those without papers (1995), the Mapuche Indians in Chile (Revolts, 2003), Iraqi victims (Broken Faces, 2010), alcoholics (2011) – and tries to shine a light on their condition. As someone drawn to the peripheries, he has photographed behind the scenes of the 2002 presidential election, the making of pornographic films (Hard-bodies, 2003) and fashion shows (Behind the Scenes, 2002 and 2008). In 2012, he taught photography at Paris 1 University, and he regularly gives practical workshops at the Rencontres Photographiques Festival in Arles.
Tony and Simon, Father and Son, 2014, France
This is the first skin-to-skin contact between Tony and his son, Simon, who is just a few minutes old. I took the picture during a residency at the maternity unit of the teaching hospital in Rouen. The father is particularly relaxed, and immediately finds the movements needed to carry his son. Simon is Tony’s third child. This young father lives in one of the poor neighbourhoods of Rouen. He is unemployed, but as such has plenty of time to look after his children.
Andrey and Romeo, Father and Son, 2015, Brazil
Andrey, 17, lives in a favela in Rio. He brings up his son, Romeo, alone. I felt a very strong vital energy connecting this young father to the son who he protects and of whom he is so proud.
Rémi and Xavier, Father and Son, 2011, France
Rémi is a farmer. He agreed to sit for this portrait to please his son, Xavier, who works at the Maison de la Culture 93 in Bobigny – the suburban theatre in Paris where I had set up my studio. It was the first that Rémi had set foot inside a theatre. It is probable that he understands very little of the life of his twenty-year-old son, a fine arts student in Paris. The father spoke very little. He was shy, and unwilling to take his clothes off. But the son insisted, and in the end the father agreed. As soon as they were shirtless, side by side, the father was overcome with emotion. The two men embraced one another. Overshadowed, I left them to enjoy their moment of rediscovery. When I returned twenty minutes later, the photo session was extraordinary.
Diven and Erio, Father and Son, 2011, France
The day of the photo session, Diven went to the hospital to find his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The father didn’t speak French, only Italian, his mother tongue. Sensitively, Diven helped his father get undressed. He took off his shirt and his undershirt, and – in a gesture I found especially touching – redid his hair with his hand. Diven was worried about whether his father recognised him. He asked, “Do you know who I am?”. Without hesitation, the father replied, “Of course. You are my son.”