Un Village

Un Village (Éditions Gwinzegal, 2020)

33,280 color slides, 23,076 black-and-white negatives: this concise list might have begun one of the hundreds of entries in the private journal kept by Madeleine de Sinéty. The character of her relation to the beings that she photographed, the theater of their gestures, the richness and variety of her encounters with the inhabitants of Poilley—a small village in Brittany 60 kilometers north of Rennes—burst forth everywhere from the enormous accumulation of images. Born in 1934, de Sinéty lived in Poilley from 1972 to 1982. Later, she made numerous trips from the United States where she had settled. Upon her death in 2011, she left an archive that she had not had time to set in order on her own. Only the black-and-white photographs had been partly brought out at an exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Portland Museum of Art. And so, without her, with her son Peter, we have taken this archive of images and have tried, as humbly and faithfully as we could, to bring to light her work, which is neither that of a photographer carrying out a commission nor that of an anthropologist ­– but rather the living work of an artist partaking in the lives of a close-knit community, a rural microcosm in full transformation on the cusp of modernity.

Jérôme Sother
Editor’s note