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10 mars 2017



ABOUT DAWN DUNLAP (Sébastien Guillet, english text)

Sébastien Guillet

French text here :

There was once a deleterious era, which attacked free and sane beings. A time when a great photographer was found « suicidal » in his home, without finding fault with it. Olivier Mathieu, in « The Portrait of Dawn Dunlap » (a book published by his friend Jean-Pierre Fleury) explores in a short nostalgic text the mechanics of memory through the portrait of a muse of David Hamilton.

The names of Dawn Dunlap and David Hamilton are eternally linked. Connected by the immense and unique photographic work of the British but also and especially by the film that this one turned with the girl. We live today an era that likes to mess, preferably with noises, crashes and summary executions.

It all began a few months ago with accusations  against the now-eighteen-year-old Hamilton, decades later and without anything other than presumed memories. Charges launched in the midst of the media arena to shed as much of this ink as the contemporary « journalists » know what to do, otherwise celebrate mediocrity, condemn non-conforming thought and destroy reputations without the slightest evidence.

All this ended in the « suicide » of one of the greatest photographers of his time, in total indifference, the media shamefully hovering over the idea that he would not have endured being thus « discovered. » It is certainly not with these box-pressed cardboard press that the case of the Black Dahlia could have been elucidated … but let us pass.

In recent days, Olivier Mathieu has published a magnificent text devoted to Dawn Dunlap, the young model of the late 1970s that Hamilton has so subtly fixed on film. He also directed a number of films in the 1980s (described as « erotic » by official notups, for example, when it was necessary to talk about initiation works). Produces a work of unquestionable originality and timelessness. And if it is true that one can recognize a great artist in his style, then Hamilton is a very great one.

While pornography invades all contemporary communication space, that vulgarity is erected as a high form of Art by the media and experts, that music no longer has become, like photography, only a medium destined to selling apartments or mobile packages, a whole decadent world attacked the poetry, the sensuality, the freshness of David Hamilton’s work, under the false pretense that his favorite artistic object was the young girls in flower … Without laughter, have you already consulted the many sites of professional or amateur photographers who rage on Internet? A cluster of ugliness and bad taste devoid of meaning and originality. An era that takes on beautiful things lives its last decades, no doubt.

In his book, Olivier Mathieu admits his fascination with Dawn Dunlap, explores the photographs of Hamilton by deploying, in a synthetic and touching form at the same time, the memories of childhood, adolescence, the first emotions and the loss of Illusions. He sees in passing time, and brings the being closer to its end, a magnificent allegory of beauty that vanishes, so fast, so strong, as a sunset is lost in a minute (the photographers, of which I am, knows that!). David Hamilton is one of those rare artists who knew, wanted, succeeded in immortalizing this virginal sweetness which is exhausted in a few months, at best a few years.

Paying homage to a real artist soiled in his great age, describing a bygone era where freedom and beauty were still pillars of artistic creation but also part of the undisputed common heritage, Olivier Mathieu tears the (diaphanous?) veil of our sinister society and celebrates in some way the need to be nostalgic, so as not to die unhappy … and rude. The very young beauty of Dawn Dunlap, immortalized for ever by Hamilton, set up as a rampart against the decadent ugliness  in memory of what was, what was possible, and which must not be forgotten.

Sébastien Guillet.


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