The first photobook I ever bought was in Marseille. At 24, I chose to travel solo in Europe. After saying goodbye to my first partner in Paris, I boarded a fast train to the south coast of France to experience and explore the Moroccan and North African communities enmeshed within French culture.
Marseille was not the town that a gourmet food show had portrayed to me on Australian television. When you’re on a backpackers budget, gourmet food is pretty much off the menu. I arrived in Marseille riddled with anxiety, I was no longer in the traveling companion comfort of my ex and had to navigate a completely new city and find accomodation for the night before exploring this windy coastal city.
As a solo female traveller I stood out like a sore thumb and was targeted by mostly men who tried many times to take advantage of my solo freedom during my two months in Europe. But there was one man, a kind Algerian man, who saw me wandering alone along the picturesque harbour with my Pentax SLR. It was my last day in Marseille, I was killing time, taking snaps of the colourful fishing boats, before boarding an overnight train to Basque country in Spain. This man had a very small shop in the harbour of Marseille. He spoke very little english, but was able to gesture to me, the kinds of things that he sold. What I saw on the walls of this very small poky store was art.
He told me this was his gallery and that I if I ever wanted to have an exhibition, I should get in touch. He gave me the gallery address and then invited me to attend an event being held not far by. Together we walked to what turned out to be a bookstore. There were many other North African people there, beautiful flat bread with hummus and mediterranean style condiments. It was here that I discovered the photography of Christophe Bourgudieu. Despite the publication being written entirely in French, the photographs I saw in Le Cartographe captured my attention, so much so that this beautifully composed photobook needed to come home with me.
Today’s post was sparked by this special memory and experience that this Algerian man gave me, through the act of pulling this book off my shelf. I was going to launch into describing the detail, quality and composition of the images, but this is where the visual imagery speaks the loudest.