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Didier Ben Loulou

Born in Paris in 1958, Didier Ben Loulou did some Art History studies his first slides to Fresson Studio in 1979, with whom he continues to work.

His first stay in Tel Aviv was in 1981/89, while he kept a kind of photographic repertory of the urban and maritime space of the city. In the same time, he discovereda space, very close to the big city, but maybe less busy and more mysteriousin its configuration and radiation: Jaffa and the its ruined area of Ajami. Didier Ben Loulou waited for over twenty years to dedicate it a book and thus reveals a secret side of the memory of this country. This book “Jaffa, la passe”, came out in 2006 with a text by Caroline Fourgeaud-Laville.

It’s in 1993 that the artist took the decision to establish himself in Jerusalem, which will become the anchoring point of his artistic work during 15 years. The old town meanderings, the diversity of its origins and the plurality of its belongings form then the exploration territory of the photographer. Walking along in all this human complexity with an intense curiosity, and a vigilant and lucid sensibility, Ben Loulou drew the moving portrait of a multi borders city.

His path crossed Emmanuel Levinas’ path for two publications, the first in 1996 when Bruno Roy (Fata Morgana Editions) propose him to photographically illustrate the beautiful text of the philosopher “Violence of the face” and, then, in 2004, while publishing “Sincerity of face” with a text by Catherine Chalier. Meanwhile this book comes within the Levinas lineage, it however suggests some new angles in the interpretation of the faces, more ambiguous, revealing the glances corruption and the one, not less obvious, of the principles and of their links to already done ideas on good and evil. Writing was always side by side with Didier Ben Loulou work, until fully meeting it within the frame of a patient work on letters, mainly done on the Safed and Mount of Olives cemetery steles.The photographer travels up and down the world as a lector searching signs. The letter takes place in his work within all its expression forms: from the more sacred of the Hebraic inscription to the more profane of the posters which are covering the city walls and of the tags from the Arabic small streets. Because the letter exactly comes out those two categories – profane and sacred – to become more philosophic, a kind of link between men, alive or died.

In 2007/8, while he is preparing himself to gather together all his work on Jerusalem and publish it, he works on a new project in Athens: travelling people mixed to mass immigration, the meeting of the third world with the quarter world in the outlying of the capital.

Didier Ben Loulou works are regularly showed in Europe and in the States and are part of numerous private and public collections: Fonds national d'Art contemporain (Paris), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris), Musée d’Art et d’histoire du Judaïsme (Paris)... In 2007, a fund was open in the Imec (Institut Mémoires de l’Edition Contemporaine) where all is archives are kept.

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