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Dreamt memories from Africa
William Ropps Reisetagebuch ist nach “Children” sein langersehntes, neues Buch. Von mehreren Reisen nach und durch Afrika brachte er uns Bilder und Porträts mit, die weder die dort vorherrschende Armut noch die Formulierung einer Anklage zum Thema haben und damit eine Vision von Afrika offenbaren, die so gar nicht den gängigen Klischees über diesen Kontinent entspricht. Ropps Afrika, Ropps Kinder zeigen Frohsinn, Stärke und Stolz. Sie hinterfragen unsere Auffassung von Glück, das nach unserem Verständnis auf dem Leben in einer Gesellschaft im scheinbaren Wohlstand fußt.
William Ropp, geboren 1960 in Versailles (Frankreich), hat sich während der letzten Jahre zu einem der erfindungsreichsten und kreativsten Fotografen Europas entwickelt. Er ist bekannt für seine einzigartige Technik, mit der er die mysteriösen Aspekte der menschlichen Natur festhält.
Seine Arbeiten wurden in unzähligen Ausstellungen, Museen und Galerien auf der ganzen Welt ausgestellt und sind Bestandteil zahlreicher privater und öffentlicher Sammlungen. Seine Fotografien wurden in einschlägigen Magazinen, wie Zoom, International Photography, Eyemazing, Shots, P. Magazine, Black & White, International Photographer, Vision, Focus etc., veröffentlicht.
Er gewann den Schwarz & Weiß Preis sowie den Ersten Preis bei den Polaroid Final Art Awards 1997.
William Ropp, born in 1960 in Versailles (France), has emerged as one of Europe's most ingenious and creative photographers in recent years. He is well-known for the unique style in which he captures the mysterious aspects of human nature.
His work has appeared in countless exhibitions, museums, and galleries throughout the world and is included in a broad range of private and public collections. His pictures were published in magazines such as Zoom, International Photography, Eyemazing, Shots, P. Magazine, Black & White, International Photographer, Vision, Focus etc.
In 1997 he won the Black & White Prize and the 1st prize at the 6th European Polaroid Final Art Awards.
“Thankfully, not all photographers of children allegorise or eroticise their subjects. William Ropp's children are impassioned, fierce, questioning, undaunted. These images were taken in Mali. Ropp writes, "I went to Mali ... sailed down the Nigeria River from Macina to Mopti following the steps of my ancestor Louis Jaccoliot, my great-great-great grandfather, who in 1879 reached the mythic city of Timbuktu ..."
Although the title refers to dreams, the photographs we see are reflections of a nightmarish world; Ropp described Mali as "hell". The huge staring eyes, the shadowy indeterminate landscapes, the threadbare clothing - these are images from the bleakness of a developing world where children are born already knowing, already shaped for the lives they will grow into. Ropp's lens presents these children without sentiment or fallacies, rendering the grit of their everyday lives with grace and dignity. Almost every face wears a grave expression - not donned for the sake of the camera but which, believes Ropp, stem from "the rich internal life of the children themselves”.”
“Der französische Fotograf William Ropp hat sich mit gheimnisvollen, mysteriösen Menschenbildnissen einen Namen gemacht. Seit Jahren bilden Portraits von Kindern einen Schwerpunkt seiner Arbeit. (…) In Houston stellte er die aktuelle Serie „Children from the Dogon Country“ vor, die in Mali entstand. (…) Auf seiner Reise sprach er Kinder, vor allem Jungen, an und bat sie (gegen Bezahlung) als Model für ihn zu agieren. Nicht Portraits im engeren Sinne, sondern rätselhaft aufgeladene Inszenierungen sind entstanden – im Zusammenspiel der agierenden Kinder, einer archaischen Umgebung und dem Gestaltungswillen des Fotografen.“
“My thoughts on these photographs turn immediately to memories – Memories of my own childhood and that unique emotional space that Wiliam’s photographs have absolutely defined. (…) This is the purest of photographic experiences. Only the eyes of a poet can enable us to exist in several time dimensions simultaneously.”
“He is gifted with the ability to show things and express thoughts hidden, deep down in the darkest recesses of our souls. Oh – mysterious currents of subconscious! France, that beautiful country which gave not a few good things to the world! And Monsieur William Ropp and his work is one of them –without doubt.”
“(…) No doubt, the complex work of William Ropp allows for other interpretations. But nobody will deny that these images leave an indelible impression on the soul. The profundity of William Ropp’s work, though, should not have us overlook that we are dealing here with the art of photography in the first place. And there is no doubt: William Ropp’s photography is a photography of the highest rank!
(…) Such photography is the very opposite of what it is commonly held for: to be a mere reflection of the visible world. If anywhere, here Klee’s saying applies: that art does not render the visible, but makes visible.
Granted: few painters or sculptors of the twentieth century fathom the same depths, and equally few reach to the same heights.
“(...) One sees little innocence in Ropp’s vision of the child; the experience is already there and in place. In fact, some of Ropp’s children, at least to my eye, even seem to have the memory of the Holocaust about them – somehow in their dress and in their faces. But possibly I am only seeing one of my own ob-sessions reflected in Ropp’s mirror. His new work – his children of Mali, his African dream – might seem to present a social message, be a document of life in the third world, or present a vision as chilling as the fantasized terrors of Arbus, Tress, or Lux, but even his dream of Africa is a part of his larger collective dream of the child. Ropp told me that Mali was “hell”, and I am quite certain these children lack all the material luxuries of the West. But look at them. They are swimming, playing, fishing, doing all those things children do. Samuel Johnson in his novel Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia has the philosopher Imlac explain to Rasselas that “The Europeans … are less unhappy than we, but they are not happy. Human life is every where a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.” Does the fact that their eyes glow so fiercely mean anything other than that they are inquisitive and as interested as any other child might be in this French photographer who had travelled so far to photograph them? Ropp’s vision is that of the eternal child wherever he or she might be. In the shaping of that vision and in the crafting of his art, he did something that had not been done before—he captured the collective portrait of us all when we were young. (...)”
Prof. John Wood in the foreword,