03Photographer and calligrapher, Nicolas T. Camoisson is at the crossroads between East and West. The exhibition retraces his artist’s residency at the Cordouan Lighthouse in June.
He spent his childhood in the Middle East, where he lived between Syria and Lebanon for 20 years. Self-taught, he made his first films at the age of 14, in Damascus, and then turned to still photography at the age of 18 as a press photographer and war reporter for several agencies, Arab media and published many books.
Arabist and specialist of the Arab world, he intervenes after the attacks of Charlie Hebdo in several detention centers in France at the request of the Ministry of Justice. He gave courses on the Middle East and calligraphy to radicalized prisoners, convicted of terrorism.
Conflicts in the East complicate the exercise on the ground and push the photographer to consider other projects by always integrating the natural environment and the human. The encounters in the course of his previous works opened the doors to a world never before approached: the seas.
Nicolas embarks on an in-depth work on the world of fishing in the Bay of Biscay and well beyond our borders. In order to be as close as possible, to be informed, to understand, to immerse himself, he trained to become a professional sailor.
In the spring of 2020, his residency on the Bout du Monde lighthouse in La Rochelle is devoted to calligraphy, on the theme of the voyages of Sindbad the sailor: a moment of creation, symbols, a journey. It is at this moment that a bridge is drawn between the two worlds that animate it: the East, the history of the Arab world, sciences, cultures, arts and also radical Islam, conflicts, its politics, its geopolitics… And our history in New Aquitaine, in France, in Europe with the world of fishing, the Brexit, quotas, fishing territories, global warming.
Cordouan embodies this passage, this bridge between its origins and the ocean. To approach an adventure like this, on a majestic monument in the middle of the sea, can have the aspect of a retreat, of an isolation: the ocean, a lighthouse, a lantern, the sandbanks, the rhythm of the tides, the horizon and the ocean again…
It was first with his calligraphy equipment that he landed. He illustrates the first moments on the lighthouse by writing with a brush and his calames (bamboo pen). The camera gradually came into his hands. Back on dry land, he found the brush again, choosing an old technique to print his photographs. The cyanotype imposed itself by its blue color.
Nicolas T. Camoisson takes us into the world of the sea, the brushstrokes that blur or mark the limits of the images make sense with the calligraphies. This exhibition joins the gesture to the image, the image to the words.
Within the framework of his artist residency on the Cordouan lighthouse and the beginning of the Terre/Mer project, many partners support his approach.