French newspaper removes all images in support of photographers

To coincide with Paris Photo's opening, French newspaper Libération has chosen to remove all images from its 14 November issue in a bid to show the power and importance of photography at a time when the industry is facing unprecedented challenges, say the newspaper's editors

Olivier Laurent — 15 November 2013

Image © Olivier LaurentImage © Olivier LaurentImage © Olivier LaurentImage © Olivier LaurentA flatplan with the missing images is included at the end of the newspaper, this time with all articles and written materials removed. Image © Olivier Laurent

“A visual shock. For the first time in its history, Libération is published without photographs. In their place: a series of empty frames that create a form of silence; an uncomfortable one. It’s noticeable, information is missing, as if we had become a mute newspaper. [A newspaper] without sound, without this little internal music that accompanies sight,” writes Brigitte Ollier, a journalist Libération‘s Culture desk.

Ollier is right, and by choosing to maintain the newspaper’s usual design – with its articles flowing around the spaces where images should have been shown -Libération has succeeded in its attempt to show the power and importance of photography in our understanding of world events.

The French newspaper explains its decision with these opening words, published on its front page: “Libération vows an eternal gratitude to photography, whether produced by photojournalists, fashion photographers, portraitists, or conceptual artists. Our passion for photography has never been questioned – not because it’s used to beautify, shock or illustrate, but because photography takes the pulse of our world. To choose Paris Photo’s opening day to “install’ these white images highlights our commitment to photography. It’s not a wake, we’re not burying the photographic art.”

It adds: “Instead we give photography the homage it deserves. Yet, no one can ignore the calamitous situation press photographers now find themselves in, especially war photographers who risk their lives while barely making a living. And for those whose work went on show today in the Grand Palais thanks to shrewd gallery owners, we might think that the odds are in their favour, but it’s all smoke and mirrors: the art photography market is currently confused.”

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