Augure I (Copie)
Augure is a visual essay on news photography from the 1960s and 70s, based on press clippings from the leading news magazine of the time. The series confronts commercial iconography with that of news reports to propose a reflection on the duplicity of photographic practice and the influence of advertising on our collective imagination.
At a time when French television is still a state monopoly (it will officially remain so until 1982) and when radio and the written press are the dominant media, the weekly press appears for many photographer-reporters as a professional consecration by offering publications in large format and in color. The paper press is nevertheless a godsend for advertisers who see in this large format and the promise of striking reports a space conducive to advertising.
Associating the often violent images of conflicts with those no less frontal of the products and precepts of the consumerist society, Augure returns to an ambiguous and crucial period for the future of photography: the idea of photographic objectivity is waning to the benefit of the recognition of the photographer-author and the growing presence of advertising clichés is patiently shaping the readers into future consumers. In this schizophrenic environment, stories of major geopolitical episodes (decolonization, the Vietnam War, May ’68, the Prague Spring, etc.) are placed next to the promotion of a DS, an electric razor or a vacuum cleaner, and the faces of political leaders merge with those of movie stars. The line between information and communication is getting thinner and history is now written from events which are difficult to say if they belong to the register of historical fact, promotional content or anecdote.
By reinterpreting the visual seduction of a bygone era, Augure plays on visual amalgams to suggest the idea that even today, history is less a matter of framing than of editing. Semiotic puzzle, the series can be read – in the manner of the Greek and Roman priests – as a game of interpretation of signs and symbols extracted from the bowels of the press.