For those of us who were there, the faraway echo of remembrance rings in our memories with the silent language of Philippe Morillon’s photographs. 

The convicts of the looming death row relive under our eyes the splendor of their superficial negligence and artificial paradises. It is unsettling to think that they had such little time to live, entangled with the fever of this disquieting euphoria. The festivities of the Palace had no sponsors. The profits (although there were none) were not for humanitarian work. The party was an end in itself, paid by whoever could pay. Paris had its stars and a few passing meteorites but the “red carpet” notion did not exist, and the term “icon” was still reserved for the paintings of orthodox churches. Philippe Morillon gives a somewhat elegant vision of an ephemeral era, which could be sordid at the time, but which instigates fantasy today.
The “politically correct” and its procession of hypocritical manners had yet to come. At the time, there existed only “rive droite”, and “rive gauche”. Thanks to Fabrice Emaer, the nightlife had settled on the right bank (first with the Club 7, rue Sainte-Anne and, in 1978, with the Palace, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre.) Aids, the Gauche caviar and a growing paralysis of the minds distorted this way of life forever. Instead of this dangerous insouciance we inherited of a heaviness of sterilizing width. 

At the time, it was still permitted to smoke in a public space. Can you imagine the parties at the Palace without cigarettes or joints… In turn, the limelight of a party that couldn’t last gradually went out, leaving Philippe Morillon as its best biographer. These images show with a silent hand an era, which is unknown to many of us today.
Philippe was able to hold onto what seemed doomed to be erased at the expense of an undocumented legend: the perfect vision of a former reality. 

These photos spare us from the banal clichés of collective memory, and the ready-made ideas on a certain past, certainly not perfect, but indisputably different from the present.

A book
in which we enter
from the closed doors
of remembrance


He makes us endure with lightness the weight of what no longer exists. We thought ourselves at the dawn of a new future, which turned out to be at odds with our expectations, and too often unjust. Today, the Palace is a beautiful theater, restored with the respect and precision usually reserved for historical monuments, but nothing remains of these mysterious and strange processions that had once come through its doors. 

The play went on mainly inside the venue. When the curtains fell on both sides of the stage it was time to get out… But “where is the outside?” the lead actors would ask, followed by the crowds of performers of this play that was continuously sold out during those short resplendent years.
When we have gone far, so far, too far, it is difficult to return, sometimes even impossible. We pay tribute (this activity is very popular lately) to a decadent past, which would likely be condemned if it took place today, but which we would also be incapable of resurrecting with its inherent lightness. 

The book by Phillipe Morillon is a Night in which we enter from the closed doors of remembrance. One has the impression – perhaps misleading? – that the main activity of this little world, formed not exclusively of mundane personalities, is to go out, out and out again.
We had to live the nights like spells of magic and feel that we stood in the margins of the banality of everyday life. These photographs are like a draft text finally uncovered over thirty years later, after likely betrayals between margins and emptiness.
The nights were never too long because the day did not seem to exist. Awakening to lucidity came later (often too late). The remaining time to live was not the same for everyone. It is dangerous to play too close to light and its blinding glares. It was a motley world and yet selective at the same time. Originality, beauty and youth were important assets in order to be included. These photographs are much stronger than the survivors’ speeches, which tend to be emotionally charged and filled with posthumous judgments. 
Here there is no Photoshop to better the past. It was like that. I was there! 


Karl Lagerfeld 

PS: the book by Philippe Morillon is wonderful. Personally, I hate to be forced into reminiscence but I believe these memories can inspire the generations to come. The past is creative only if it is imaginative.


A selection of photos,
extract from the book, has been exhibited in 2009
At Pierre Passebon's Galerie du Passage,
26 galerie Véro-Dodat, Paris 75002


Librairie 7L
7 rue de Lille
75007 Paris
Tel. + 33 1 42 92 03 58

SAYWHO Gallery

Saywho Gallery is the first online gallery dedicated to mundane & relational photography. With a focus on this phenomenon since its inception up to the contemporary era analyzing its journalistic and artistic standards, Saywho Gallery proposes a limited edition of signed & numbered prints. Through its selection, Saywho Gallery wishes to put forward different techniques & approaches that center on the night life (sometimes diurnal too) of different families, determined to becoming immortal thanks to the magic of photography, which, as Patrick Modiano said, «sets a dream forever».

In 1968 Andy Warhol declared in the catalogue for his exhibition at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet : « In the future, everyone will have its 15 minute global fame ». Depicting his generation in order to, he says, ” Remember where he was at a precise moment”, he was an untiring chronicler of life and its encounters. His Polaroid camera followed him wherever he went abd he birthed a great collection of snapshots of his friends, lovers, philanthropists, celebrities, unknown people, performers, people from the fashion industry and of himself. He might now have known that his prediction would happen decades later. A whole generation sees itself as the sole heir to Andy Warhol: they mimic, in a endless night where there are no limits, what made the pop visionary successful: taking photos of oneself and one’s friends, but also offering an argument on the existing artistic codes by advocating for a net permeability between Art & Life whilst being open to the daily life.

The 80’s and the 90’s were immortalized by Nan Goldin, Larry Clark and Wolfgang Tillmans, then a new dimension appears and explores new domains as spread as they are captivating. While the ancients created artistic standards by doing social & journalist photography, the new actors discover new possibilities with a sort of informed amateurism. Instagram is on their key & core medium. Prior to Olivier Zahm, there were Jean Pigozzi and Bobe Colacello. There was Billy Monk and his images of Cape Town’s Club, The Montmartre de Brassaie, Robert Frank or Nobuyoshi Araki’s photo journal. There also was the movie journal of Jonas Mekas and many others. More than a practice, it’s become a real photographic trend that draws its essence within journalistic photography. The subject has simply changed, and the tools have become accessible. Without properly knowing it and by mimicking the same photographic movement, we enter one big and united, beloved and friendly family. The gesture we all share unites and gives us the sensation we all belong, amongst and with everyone. That’s what a selfie is: a landmark, a symbol, and for many an attachment. Nowadays, everyone documents their life and ell their own story with images, so as to mark down, as Emily Dickinson wrote in her preface for Bob Colacella’s book, “the hope, that thing with feathers that perch on the soul”.

Contact

Saywho Gallery

01 42 21 48 60

contact@saywho.fr