Hugo Passarello Luna: Nostalgia for Mud
“No one – apart from a certain adventurer dreamt by Wells – has discovered the art of living in the future or the past. There is no undertaking that doesn’t belong to its time.” – Jorge Luis Borges. Prologue to Luna de enfrent
History can be a slippery slope between truth and memory. Argentinean photographer Hugo Passarello Luna examines this notion with his new project, Nostalgie de la boue (nostalgia for mud). Using the Kodak Vest Pocket camera from 1912, widely used by soldiers and officers during WWI, for almost two years Hugo followed several groups of French re-enactors who recreate WWI combats in real battlegrounds around France. He discovered that most amateur photos in national archives were taken using the Vest Pocket, also called “the soldiers Kodak”. The photographs explore memory, image making and WWI in France, a century after the end of the conflict, but he also seeks to understand how their quest for authenticity plays a role in the collective memory of a country that witnessed so many gruesome battles. As he states, “this idealized past is reassuring opposite a confusing present”.
Hugo Passarello Luna, freelance Argentinean photojournalist based in Paris. His work has been published in The New York Times, Liberation, La Croix, Newsweek en Español, Soho Revista, Discover magazine, Der Spiegel Online, Le Figaro Magazine, among other media. He teaches photojournalism at Sciences Po Paris Ecole du Journalisme, Université Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint-Denis, and L’Ecole W of CFJ. His recent work Nostalgie de la boue, was exhibited in Paris, presented at Pompidou Museum of Modern Art (L’Observatoire des Passions). He has also covered the conflict in Irak with ISIS and is currently working on long term photography projects in Latin America. You can find more of his work on his website: www.hugopassarello.com
Nostalgie de la boue (Nostalgie for mud)
Using a photo camera from the First World War, Nostalgie de la boue explores the reenactment of collective memory in France, 100 years after the end of the conflict. For some it is an idealised past, more reassuring than the present.
For over almost two years I travelled through France photographing dozens of World War I reenactments. The photos were taken with a Kodak Vest Pocket, also known as “the soldier’s Kodak” one of the most widely used cameras during the war.
The images of Nostalgie de la boue, like the historical reenactments they portray, are carved in the present. They function as a mirror to our present doubts, desires, fears and frustrations. We learn more about our present than the past.
When faced with an uncertain future and a confusing present, the past can work as a refuge to revitalize in, where the stakes are straightforward. Playing the role of a past hero can provide meaning in our daily life.
Collective memory is a never ending process of rewriting. In a century from now, who knows what will be reenacted? – Hugo Passarello Luna
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