Alexis Cordesse was born in France and began his career as a photojournalist covering the major world throughout the post-Cold War period. From the mid-1990s, in search of new forms, he moved away from the practice of photojournalism, drawing inspiration from a critical reflection on the ethics of testimony. He returned to places such as Rwanda or Palestine to propose images capable of showing a different and more intimate reality than the one we usually perceive through the media.
The project presented here, Talashi, is made up of photographs of memories and everyday moments taken and saved by Syrian exiles themselves, whom Cordesse encountered in Europe and Turkey.
Seeking an alternative to the sentimental dramatisations of war as all too often circulated by mainstream media, Cordesse performs an act of collective remembrance by collating personal photographs belonging to those living in exile in Turkey, Germany and France. Like their owners, these artefacts have survived perilous journeys. In the course of his meeting, Cordesse wrote the stories of these vernacular documents and those who entrusted them to him. Not unlike those from our family albums or mobile phones, they show daily life in Syria and in exile. At the crossroads of intimacy and history, they allow us to empathically imagine the lives of ordinary people, turned upside down by extraordinary events. The combination of words and images creates the impression of a broken puzzle, pieced back together but with pieces missing. Such is the precariousness of Talashi, a title which translates from Arabic as ‘Fragmentation’, ‘Erosion’ or ‘Disappearance’.
Talashi, of which a short documentary was also made, was selected for the Arles Photo Festival in 2019, and that same year won the Grant for Documentary Photography at the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP).