In short

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Portrait of Stanley Greene, Paris, 1994 © Bernard Plossu
Portrait of Stanley Greene, Paris, 1994 © Bernard Plossu

Sans Papiers Photographiques (Photographic Undocumented Workers) is a photographic and cinematic achievement. Work began in 2005 and continued throughout 2016. This artistic and human reflexion is based on reception, opening to others, and the magnificent exchange that can ensue when different cultures meet. Today, they are called “asylum seekers”, but tomorrow they will be working people and important players in tomorrow’s society.

This work is based on a different take from what the media shows us today, neither a report nor a documentary and even less a short film. My models are beautiful and endearing, and their multiple languages are beautiful music to hear. There is no translation for these encounters, but their expressions and the modulations of their voices naturally tell us their name, the country they left, and the one that welcomed them.

There’s no need for subtitles because, in these moments, it’s heart, emotion, and empathy that speak. The beautiful moments experienced throughout these exchanges by inviting each person individually to my shooting studio sparked mutual and shared curiosities.

I want to offer this experience to the maximum amount of people. It doesn’t matter that these encounters were in Belgium. These situations and possible encounters have become multiple and daily through the world. The fear of reaching out to another is never only from timidity or fear of the unknown. This traveling exhibition will be national, but also international, it will give a multitude of visitors the desire to experience what I was able to experience during this adventure, this round the world tour to a stationary traveler who received more than he gave.

Today, being a peace film-maker and photographer is much more perilous in its approach and less sales-oriented than being a war photographer. Finding and directing these many happy and positive moments in life are, however, the most beautiful gift in the world and the best salary that one could hope to receive.

This exhibition at Rixensart, Belgium’s town hall, on view through January 23, 2107 before starting its international tour, is an important moment and experience. Through these photographic and cinematic portraits, that will shed light on the strength and beauty of these people and also on the hope and faith in the future of these people, who, today, are still called refugees.

Jean-Dominique Burton      

Jean-Dominique Burton, Sans papiers photographiques
Through January 23, 2017
Maison communale de Rixensart
Avenue de Mérode, 75
1330 Rixensart

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Reims 2012, Jean-Dominique Burton

Jean-Dominique Burton takes pictures because he travels, not the opposite. Humanity is his only subject and the portrait is the only method he uses. It is because he wanted to keep track of the people he met over the 6000 kilometers he covered in Burkina Faso that he took picture...