Photography book - 120 pages - 52 photographies
English version - 18x18 cm
On the 4th of November last year, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America. I was in Washington that evening. I had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to experience that event live. I would have loved being happy, completely happy. Yet, I was not.
I had spent the day in Anacostia, a neighborhood in Washington where Barack Obama had obtained 99.02% of the votes, and where, this had been told and repeated to me, one should not put foot. Situated at only three metro stations from the Capitol, it was so rare to come across a white person in this neighborhood that I had started counting them. Thus, it was difficult for me that evening to forget that piece of reality and to pretend that the accession to the Presidency of the United States of America by a candidate who was born of an African father had suddenly turned this country into a “post-racial” democracy.
Even if the political views of Barack Obama are authentically “post-racial”, he holds them in a typically American economic and social context that is not authentically “post-racial”, far from it. Once I crossed the Atlantic, it was on this paradox that I wished to dwell.
So, rather than spending my days following the militant democrats who were busy ensuring Obama's victory on 4 November, I preferred taking the metro and walking around each of the 21 green line stations so as to test this dream of a “post-racial” society against the simplest and most commonplace reality.
I chose to carry out my project around the green line rather than other lines for two reasons. The first reason is a practical one as the green line consists of 21 stations. Since I was staying in Washington for 21 days, it made the organisation of my work, in principle, much simpler. The second reason is more essential: the area south of the line is known for its “ghettos” and therefore represented an inescapable area for observation.
The work that has come from this three-week journey is not a thesis that I wish to set out or defend. It is a simple, mostly photographic account of a life experience that I hope to share. Consequently, some people may find that this book contains inconsistencies, short-cuts, perhaps errors or even blunders. That I regret and accept at the same time.
For all that, it seems to me that this project is useful, even though its ambition has limitations. Useful because it averts the gaze. It directs the eye from political life with its cyclical nature towards social life and the future ahead; it detracts the gaze of Barack Obama’s individual destiny towards the collective destiny of Blacks in the United States. It makes it somehow possible to move from the imaginary to the real.