Xavier Barral, the award-wining publisher behind Éditions Xavier Barral, has died suddenly, at home in Paris on 17 February. Éditions Xavier Barral was behind books such as Antoine D’Agata’s Anticorps in 2013, a joint publication with Le Bal which won the Rencontres d’Arles Author’s Book Award; in 2015 another Éditions Xavier Barral/Le Bal co-publication, Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence by Eyal Weizman, won the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photography Catalogue of the Year.
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When approaching Mathieu Pernot’s 20-year-spanning work on a Roma family settled in southern France, you should leave all misconceptions and prejudices aside, as he did, and read the introduction to Les Gorgan, the photobook published by Editions Xavier Barral to accompany his critically-acclaimed exhibition at this year’s Rencontres d’Arles festival. When he began, the French photographer writes, he didn’t know anything about the Gorgan family, nor was he aware that its members had been living in France for over a century. It was to be a transformative experience, one that led Pernot to witness the birth of a child for the first time, attend funerals and engage in a type of intimacy that only time and surrender can offer.