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Donigan Cumming

A DESCENT INTO THE HELL OF DONIGAN CUMMING
by
PATRICK ROEGIERS

[original in French]

Patrick Roegiers was born in Brussels in 1947, and presently lives in Paris. He is the author of essays on Lewis Carroll, Diane Arbus and Bill Brandt and has been photography critic for Le Monde from 1985 to 1992. In addition to his collections of interviews: Ecoutez voir and Facons de voir and collections ofarticles: L’CEil vivant and L’CEil multiple, he is the author of Beau regard and L’Horloge universelle, novels published in 1990 and 1992 by Editions du Seuil. He has directed films on photography and has served as an exhibition curator.

“(…) Like Thomas Bernhardt, Beckett or Bacon, Donigan Cumming functions as a biographer in this recent work which he began in 1988. No longer dealing with the relationships of people, he has begun a devastating encounter with this widow, mother of three children, who becomes his actress fetish, endlessly examining her own life. Each image, as a reflection of precise mental states, is a raw fact, but also the synopsis of a fiction, the representation of a staged moment in which Nettie Harris faces her confinement and puts to work what Cumming has called “the repertoire of her experience, real andimagined.”

With feet atrophied like the bound feet of Chinese women, naked or adorned with jewels, bathing or miming eternal rest, Nettie Harris, offering and consenting, acts as though the operator were not there. Simulating the most ordinary and intimate attitudes, she is nevertheless always conscious of hispresence and poses only for him. “He is my director. 1 work with him,” she says, recalling that thisaccount of the passions, born of a mutual fascination, is first of all a business, a relationship of account, a clear professional understanding. (…)”

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August 4