This is part of a new project: a photographic time-blender mixing archival images and photographs I have taken. Being a historian, I didn’t step in this new direction without caution. Even though manipulating old photographs might seem disrespectful, I decided that it is all a matter of how the manipulation is being done and that, besides it being a way of bringing to life a patrimony otherwise dormant in inventories, it can actually reveal something about the meaning of the archive and the way it can relate to the present.
Here we are at the same time in March, 1921 and in March, 2012, in Paris. People (it so happens to be that these are women for 1921 and men for 2012 – which is completely accidental) turn an attentive look to antiques. Obviously, some of the 2012 antiques would have been visions from the future in 1921, but our people here join in a common fascination ( and in spatial symmetry – again an accident, but one that pushed me towards bringing the two photos together) for the – more or less distant – past and the bric-à-brac that awakes the explorer’s instinct in the most indifferent passerby.
At present, that moment in March, 2012 itself has an archival status, and so these two versions of temporal fusion (present-in-the-past, past-in-the-present) inevitably invite the indefinite multiplication of the temporal-blending game, to a point where it will be impossible to say where the past stops and where the present starts.
A million thanks to the digital photographic collection of the National Library of France. Here is the link for the 1921 photograph: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b530500948.r=foire+ferraille.langEN