March 17th 2020, noon : Paris deserted, Paris silent, Paris locked-down but Paris dazzling!

March 17, 2020, noon: Paris deserted, Paris silent, Paris locked-down but Paris dazzling!

Photographs by Jean-Christophe Ballot

The lockdown has blocked the population in the private sphere.The photographer started shooting in April, three weeks after the start of the lockdown, and cessation of activities. Jean-Christophe Ballot’s urban landscapes then tell the other face of this « confinement » in Paris.

The corollary is that the public sphere has been emptied. This game of busy and emptiness was particularly astonished where normally the flow of people was the most important: that of cities.

Jean-Christophe Ballot’s urban landscapes then tell the other face of this lockdown.

To photograph the space of the city is to work on the void. But here the project is exacerbated: it is about report on the vacuum of the vacuum! The space is the street, the square with their reception functions for residents and traffic flows. The purpose is now to include in the image the empty sidewalk of pedestrians, the empty asphalt of vehicles. The frame is then a device which marks both the recognition of a known and identifiable place (most often emblematic of Paris) and its vision unusual, strange because bloodless of its inhabitants. The flesh is emptied of its blood.

The artist has chosen the radicality of light (with a few exceptions).  » Under the sun exactly. Not next door, not anywhere. Exactly under the sun » sings Serge Gainsbourg. The harsh light, often at its Zenith, without artifice means that « it was so ». He is the chronicler of a unique moment in the history of Paris.

Paris locked down is a photographic story that is addressed to all locked people who will thus discover the face of a surprising Paris in this historic time, suspended and silent …

Jean-Christophe Ballot was born and has always lived in Paris. He knows his city well, traveling it since always on a motorcycle. To make this portrait of Paris, he therefore made choices dictated by his knowledge of the city and by his experience of more than thirty years of photography of urban landscapes from cities to across the planet. In 2008, his personal exhibition at the European House of Photography was the compilation of works on fifteen cities around the world, from New York to Shanghai, from Berlin to Surabaya …

The photographer started shooting in April, three weeks after the start of the locked down, and cessation of activities. With the decrease in pollution the light permanent atmospheric veil had disappeared, and the atmosphere of Paris had found a unique transparency. This exceptional quality of light crosses his photographs.

Jean-Christophe Ballot was able to work thanks to a press certificate which served as an exemption traveling to present during police checks. He expresses all his recognition at ABACA press for this precious help.