> Roberto Mutti

You can hear the sound od the wind lightly caressing the shore as it carries the cries of seagulls; they appear to be close by where as they are flying up high carried by the current with wings stretched and no movement if not thet of the head. You can hear the rhythmic sound of the sea as you are getting used to it, perhaps because it is never ending. There are photographs that know how to evoke sound, actually it appears to be created just for them as an implicit soundtrack; it si difficult to explain the reason for this feeling - like the fact that some photographs are, howewer, "mute" or others are inextricably linked to music - but just looking at the images created by Michel Kirch is enought to understand that this is exactly the case. As if the French photographer had wanted to eliminate words and look for other, more universal sounds like those created by nature. The same recurring vision - his unique way of shooting, almost always from a bird's eye view - is the result of a willed estranged attitude, a glance that lightly comes to rest on men as if almost afraid to ask them questions but would rather observe thei movements. More than closing up on his subjects, Kirch's lens looks for the most unpredictable geometri designs. On a beach we see seven people anc each one of them appears to be self absorbet and ignoring one another - a child plays, someone is sitting or lying down, others are walking -, But throught the eyes of the phtographer we can see that these seven people are arranged to form a drawing of a circle so as ti indicate a common destiny. The issue of objective closenness between people frequently occcurs and can to found, for example, in the image of young people sitting on a wall who, without wanting to, occupy a position symmetrical to that of the plants against the wall. Michel Kirch being a careful, obsevant photographer of composition and a lover of the immediacy of the message, has created with this research entitled "Beyond the wall" a highly tense body of work. This can be seen very well in the image of a parapet on the sea caught with a perspective that emphasises its peculiar dramatic force, as if it were a barricade, an obstacle, a barrier rendered even more mysterious by the mirror road sign dominating it, remaining as a question left unanswered. Because this is not a reportage on the beauty of nature, the sense of space that characterises it has a much deeper human and political significance. Closed in on itself by that wall which was built as a defence but soon became a paradoxical sign of self exclusion, the state of Israel seems immobilised in opposition of those who are destined to live next to it. But nature cannot be harnessed and the beach at Tel Aviv becomes the symbol of a way out not as distant as one would perhaps imagine. The echoes of the Intifada, the harshness of the conflict, the exasperation of religious intransigence do not seem to arrive here beacuse no wall can reach the beach, no barbed wire can harness the clouds, no obstacle capture the wawes. Michel Kirch does not forget the wall (how many Walls has humanity known without learning thei futility?), but wants to broaden his view to see beyond it. Thus he can capture the waves creating a sequence of concentric circles on the sand as if to follow the figure of a young boy playing with the water, he can capture the man quietly walking on the waterline followed by his dog, he can stop and see a back-lit jetty where fishing roads emerge while a flock of birds passes compact in the sky.

For "Beyond the Wall" the photographer has not chosen the classical structure of reportage but has privileged the serch for the poetic dimension - a characteristic all of hi own - leaving some room for the dreaming aspect. Will the interweaving of footprints left on the sand by humans and bird as embroidery be useful to humanity as a safe guide or will it confuse the path? Is the shadow strethcing on the beach creating together whit the sea and land a triangle occupied by a whiel dressed figure, a sign of hope and harmony? Questions whose answers are not different than those we ourselves create, because many aspects remain suspended and are only there to make us think: see the beautiful image of a plane cutting the sky and a raven that seem to move in the same direction while below a seagull opens its wing and seems ready to take flight. But it's made of wood and its slender silhouette remains firmly anchored to the pole hammered in the ground that holds it, although if we half close our eyes, we can have the feeling that it has already flown away.

 

Roberto Mutti