Olivier Menanteau : L’observateur


OLIVIER MENANTEAU vit et travaille à Paris, il est diplômé de l’École nationale supérieure de la photographie d’Arles (1987). Entre 2002 et 2006, il a été résident et boursier à l’Akademie Schloss Solitude de Stuttgart, aux ateliers EXO à São Paulo, au Wissenschaftskolleg de Berlin et à l’International Studio & Curatorial Program à New York. Ses travaux ont été présentés, entre autres, à la Pinacoteca de São Paulo et au musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes en 2005 et en 2009 au pavillon des Arts de Zagreb et au Museum of Modern and Contempory Art de Bolzan.

French photographer Olivier Menanteau (1956, Salon de Provence) became an accomplished artist by photographing world leaders during official protocols, patiently observing and waiting for the moment of a more private and intimate approach. However, Menanteau does not photograph politicians and state officials in their free time. He uses the official atmosphere of their state-official activities and makes a record of their moods, the moments which are not representative by nature and cannot be seen in the media.

His artistic procedure could be contrasted to Braco Dimitrijević, who portrayed completely anonymous individuals as politicians, giving them a celebrity representative potential. Quite the contrary, Menanteau takes widely known participants on the political scene, national or international, and presents them as ‘ordinary’ people doing a certain job. An important thing to mention is that the artist uses an analogue camera.

Such a procedure results in photographs very different from the official or photo-journalist ones. The artist also analyses our opinion of politicians and contemporary media. More accurately, in his research he studies relationships between politics and media, exploring how the media cope with the regulations imposed by political representativeness.

Olivier Menanteau has successfully collaborated with the United Nations (Media Alert, 2006), Lithuanian president (Great Duchy, 2010), Cambodian royal family (For Many, Farewell Is Elusive, 2012-2013), local and national French politicians (Mediagenic-la Marseillaise, 2012-2013) and many more leading institutions and individuals.


 Exhibition curated by Leila Topic

Images courtesy of Galerie Barbara Thumm