Faces of the working class

The Light of Roses Gallery in Montreuil exhibits an exceptional collection of photographs brought together by the duo at the head of the place. Marion and Philippe Jacquier have collected over the past fifteen years touching images that show the common people working in factories at the dawn of the 20th century.

The black face of a “galibot” – nickname given to the young workers who once went down to the coal mines – these starving children portrayed in Germinal, these foremen with hard eyes who stretched themselves on endless chains of work … The photographs gathered by Marion and Philippe Jacquier shows to what extent these beings were exposed to the monsters of the machinery of yesteryear, to hostile bosses, such as “good enough to do everything”, “cheap brick” to use the words of a poem Aragonese.

But all of them have an attitude which gives off something strong, interesting or disturbing and which reminds us of the splendor of a face, this “place of the body where the personality is lodged, this most unique and irreplaceable part of the body. . “As the two founders of the gallery write and who add further:” The worker wears the marks of the work on his face, but at the same time his face, by its singularity and its mystery, constantly turns away from those -this. who wants to reduce it to an object. ”

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Indeed, as they explain in the presentation text of the exhibition, the workers were first photographed for the sole purpose of promoting the factory, to be used for advertising as decided by management. They probably did not have access to these images afterwards and were certainly not very autonomous in their poses. It was not until the end of the first half of the twentieth century that the use of photography became more democratic and that some workers themselves produced images, sometimes of their immediate environment, sometimes of strikes in which they participated, in particular with the rise of the Popular Front.

Small people

Exhibiting these images resonates today as a rehabilitation through history where once despised beings find a form of recognition. This is notably the work of the Lumière des Roses Gallery, which scans the archives of the world to find singular photographs, with evanescent and forgotten poetry, and to recount worlds of the past that have been underestimated by the official narrative. As was the case during the Rencontres de la photographie in Arles in 2019 where Marion and Philippe Jacquier designed an exhibition devoted to vagrants, the small people of Paris driven out by the rise in rents and forced to live on the fringes of the capital in unsanitary conditions. slums.

Faced with time, in the light of the past century, only the essential remains: the singularity of each expression that says something profound about man. As Baptiste mimics it in the film Les Enfants du Paradis, on the most destitute who can only afford seats very high up in the theater, the spectators furthest from the stage: “They are very small, but they have many big dreams ”.

Jean-Baptiste Gauvin

Faces of the working class

photographs 1880-1940

Exhibition from October 13, 2021 to January 29, 2022

Opening on the weekend of October 9 to 10, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Light of Roses Gallery

12-14 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau 93100 Montreuil

Tel 01 48 70 02 02 – mob 06 11 49 52 27

Wednesday to Saturday 2 pm-7pm


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