Through close to 200 photographs, this important monograph spans the entire body of work of Josef Koudelka on Ancient sites of the Mediterranean area. The fruit of 28 years of travels across 20 countries, Koudelka has photographed with the same panoramic format 200 archaeological sites. For some, he came back several times in search of the "right picture".
Beyond a romantic and picturesque view of these sites, Koudelka’s fragmented, astonishing framings often just above the ground level with high-angle or low-angle shots, his powerfully contrasted blacks and whites, make us rediscover legendary places like Delphi and Pompeii. Among Koudelka’s photographs, some of them show sites, such as Palmyra or Bosra, subsequently damaged or destroyed during recent Middle Eastern conflicts. This extraordinary body of work speaks to the homogeneity of an empire directed for centuries from Rome, our fascination with ruins, but also a civilisation foundational to our own.
To accompany these images, the Hellenist Alain Schnapp has drawn, from classical literature and travellers’ writings, ancient and modern quotations evoking and casting a new eye on Antiquity and its ruins. Several essays bring this body of work to light: Héloïse Conésa examines the photographer’s singular approach and replace it within its art historical context, Bernard Latarjet relates Koudelka’s interest for the panoramic format and his fascination for ruins wheras Alain Schnapp recounts the history of ruins and what it has represented for societies across the centuries.
Texts by Héloïse Conésa, curator of thephotography dept. at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Bernard Latarget, cultural Attaché, Alain Schnapp, historian and archaeologist, specialising in Ancient Greece.