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Meeting photographer Anna Gabriel. Azzedine Alaia foundation, Paris.

November 2022, Paris. Cold and misty sunday morning. All the eyes were turned to a woman whose work is about eyes. Anna Gabriel, alongside with her father (on stage), and her mother (very close to them...) was there to talk about her book "Eye-D" to french journalists and happy few.

"Eye-D" is the compilation (compil-eye-tion) of famous people gaze. That goes from Robert Plant to Susan Sarandon, from Sting to Wilmen Dafoe, from Amadou and Mariam to Benjamin Zephaniah.

I remember that in "The little prince", St Exupery writes: "The essential in life is invisible for the eyes...". So what an eye seing an eye can see? That's the question. And Anna Gabriel has a very subtle way of answering the question : she just let her objects of desire look at her, so they fly in very different ways. Some eyes are like colibris, small but active, others are more like eagle, overhanging to a point where they seem to contact us from another planet.

The exquisite Marie-Pierre Girardin, the P.R for this event, gave me 1 hour to talk with Anna Gabriel. I decided to separate the interview in 4 parts (I also happen to be a filmmaker, which may explain this mise-en-scène tropism).

  1. Presentation of the book and its author. I asked Anna Gabriel the recurrent question of my radio program : "Can you close your eyes and describe the room where you grew up in?". This question has been asked 17 times (once a month) in this program, but this time it was asked to someone who had made a book about eyes. So the photographer had to close hers :)

2. An analysis of Anna's eyes by Anne Bounaix (note the coïncidence of first names...), a psychologist who, each month, give her interpretation of our guests'irises and pupils. In the case of Ms Gabriel, that was quite something.

3. A travel through politics, grief, joy, sophistication, or letting go-ism of the people in the picture. The process leading to Anna Gabriel's photographs being as much important as the picture in itself. Holderlin wrote : "There is the path, before any traveller..."

4. Take a dive in the lyrics of specific songs sung by Anna Gabriel's guests in this book. I chose David Byrne (Talking Heads song), Annie Lennox, Laurie Anderson, Beth Orton, Angelique Kidjo, Tv on the radio. In all those songs, eyes are mentioned! That paved the way for a very intense understanding of the way Anna Gabriel sees life, and hear it too...

It's very interesting to remember that english-speaking people use the word "Regards" to express their attention to someone. In french, "Regards" means watching... So, when we watch, we care...

Pierre Gaffié, December, 2023...

You can watch the program here:

And the Anna's eyes analysis (by Anne Bounaix) here:

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