A photograph

A photograph. Not just an interesting scene, to be frozen onto a surface: a photograph. One of the images that exist in me, though I don’t know where, or with what features, to the point where I get a vibration in the real, and the framing scintillates so that the image takes on flesh and matches up with its internal trace, still latent a second earlier.

Except that ordinarily the realness stops vibrating well before I act. Faced with what could become a photograph, I need time. To observe necessity intensifying. To understand. To doubt. To let the image get infused with the knowing. Not to accept it being infused only with a flash of vision. The flash is essential, but I can’t turn it into a photograph other than by postponing the gesture of execution until life reveals the kind of flash it actually is. It’s often a fake; in which case, best do nothing. The innocent photographer? That’s not me. I’d like it to be the case, but it’s not. After all that, if I’m not dissolved in the confrontation, well then yes, I’ll take the photograph.

What follows is a time of patience, worry, excitement, uncertainty as to whether the camera saw the same thing as me. Not to mention the randomness of chemistry. But I gradually slip into insouciance, and soon stop thinking about it. Then one day the film comes back from the lab in the post. I spread it out on the light table. Among the images that say just what they say, I seek a familiar form. An irradiation. When I find it, I’m raised up again, with a flash still more decisive than at the moment of pressing the shutter, by a vibration, a trace, a framing of the real, previously recognised, now sanctioned by a sprinkling of silver salts on nine square centimetres of polyester. A photograph. I see it as an organ transplant. And I immediately recompose myself. Without even having had time to feel the wound, I’m healing myself. Less infirm now.



Photograph: Bandana Sharma, student, Kalanki, Nepal, 2003
Série Everyday epiphanies.

Fragment of an unpubished fiction text. This particular fragment appears in Nepal (Le Bec en l’air, 2017), as translated from French by John Doherty.