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Ethical question

In abstentia

In abstentia, Yann Tostain
[T]oynbee used to say that the nomad is the one who stays put. The one who do not leave when the desert moves forward or the steppe turns drier.

The Roma people I met are neither really nomadic nor really migrants. Very often, they work with iron, pick up paper and sell it by weight, make furniture. They get married, smoke, drink, worry; they party, complain, dream, make children, despair, are right, are wrong.

Countless are the images representing them, more or less informatively, more or less aesthetically.
This is why I did not want to make them appear more visible, or testify again of their precarious living conditions. I wanted to place them exactly where they are castaway the most: where we are shown what to lust after, on this poster who will make it essential to have a new car, a luxury leather good, and so forth…

Covering up posters already up, pasting up illegally or renting advertising space, it would be street art, if the sole trace that was left of these statements, after the « natural » destruction of the posters, wasn’t for the photos. In this image, for once, they look at the passers-by and take the control over the function of the advertising space.

Q&A with Yann Tostain

Photography is…
…in my opinion, unable to reach the real, and has nothing to do with the truth, but may be an efficient mean to question the fictionnal structure of reality.

Photography and writing…
Photography and writing are interdependant, since Brecht to Broomberg and Chanarin.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
Baruch Spinoza.

YTYann Tostain (www.yanntostain.com) was born and raised in France. He studied psychopathology in Marseille and Paris and completed his PHD in 2004. After that, while having a psychoanalytic clinical activity in France, he works for various NGOs.
He starts to work as a photographer in 2007 in West Africa, in the Balkan countries, and in the former Eastern bloc.
Since 2009, his reflexion on the function and limits of the image is slowly stepping over the strictly documentary aspect in his photographic work.
In 2013, he becomes part of the Berliner collective Exp12.
Amongst other places, his work has been shown in Russia, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden.

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