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Didier Ben Loulou
Frederike Huygen, Free Eye Magazine # 02, 2003

Didier Ben Loulou's photographs appear to show transcience. Man is but a passing shadow in history, a mark, a fleeting presence, a detail. Ben loulou, born in 1958, grew up in Paris with his jewish-French Algerian parents and studied photography and art history in Paris. In the 1980s he photographed the region around Tel Aviv. Later he searched out churchyards and other sacred places. Since 1993 he has lived and worked in Jerusalem, where he primarily photographs the Old City.

He always shows the details and the fragments, parts of a larger whole that lies out of view. A hand on an arm with dirty cuticles and fingernails. A close-up of weathered and filthy feet in sandals. Suggestive, intimate and in some way shocking, exposing a sort of rawness. At the same time, Ben Loulou investigates the texture and skin.

"I don't find a panoramic and descriptive vision interesting," he says. "I try simply to capture through a fragmentary approch the violence and the torment that seep through into the smallest corners of this cramped region." He detours. The stones and the wood, they speak. They are full of signs: chiselled, scratched, nicked, blackened, drawn on, sprayed. Signs, scars, damage and traces. Religion, hope and meaning in a context of violence, destruction and senselessness. In a strong contrast of dark and light, sharp and blurred, coloured and grey, the material seems to be his subject: remnans and waste, life and death.

Didier Ben Loulou has exhibited in France, Israel, Germany ans USA. He has received grants and prizes for his work and often appears as artist-in-residence. Various museums and institutes have bought his work. In 2002 he took part in the manifestation Noorderlicht (aurea borealis) in Groningen and exhibited in the Penning Gallery in Eindhoven, which acts his Dutch representative.

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