Carolle Benitah

born in Casablanca, Morocco
lives in Marseille, France

Just the Two of Us (1994-ongoing)

Carolle Benitah started taking photographs when the fragile chance happenings of life were imposed upon her. At that time, photography worked as support, as an existential crutch, and also as a new sense organ, in front if the reality was hard to grasp – like in the case of an illness, as presented in her Autoportrait au rideau rouge, or the transition from childhood to adolescence, from the age of twelve to the age of thirteen in the series Twelve.
The temporal aspect of existence is expressed through its link with the finite and through its relationship with the present time and immediacy in the series presented here, entitled Just the two of us. The perfect focus, the frontality of the shooting, related to the will of confronting and showing the present time, give way to the diffuse intention of catching the instant of life and show how it is reflected in the institution of a character (of an identity) and of a relationship, the one of a mother and her child.
The camera tries to record and reveal at the same time, to show and give a new dimension to these temporal realities (the story of the child and the story of the relationship between the mother and her son) or rather to compromise with them. It intensifies, transforms and regenerates them, too. These photographs tenderly suggest these instants of the life of a being, of two beings, that are a matter of the ordinary and the essential at the same time.
The desire to take pictures of her child emerges as a desire for reunion, fusion and combination, as a desire to work towards a spatial-temporal and affective proximity. At the same time, the very activity of photographing accelerates, or enhances, separation. The photographer and the photographed subject are physically together all the time, and yet a distance begins to come to light. They reveal differences and show also mutation, the new cycle of time, when the child becomes a teenager. Will he see in his own past the sign of his future or will he attest to this alteration by remaining the same? Isn’t the grip on the past always slippery and changing as we constantly act according to the new pulsations of our temporal existence?

In these personal stories, the functioning of remembrance is involved. Time leaves its mark on photography, and it creates mental pictures in our memory, too. These pictures are not still, they are fed by wandering fragments that are displaced, overlap one another, burst out, merge, and vanish.

by Elodie Guida
translation from French into English: Hélène Biesse

<< back
Updates: Kamikaze