207 - Bertrand Meunier
Jun 21, 2023 • E207 • 01:17:27
French photographer Bertrand Meunier has spent most of the past three decades quietly working either editorially or on personal long-term documentary projects both internationally and, in more recent years, at home in France. He worked extensively in Pakistan and Afghanistan among other places, primarily for Newsweek magazine, but much of his time has been spent in China documenting the tumultuous social and economic changes that the population has been faced with, focussing in particular on the economic decline of the large industrial cities, and the consequences for the people living in them. In 2001 he won the Leica Oskar Barnack prize for the work from China and in 2005 published a book, The Blood of China, When Silence Kills, in collaboration with Pierre Haski. In 2007, Bertrand won the annual Niépce prize.
A more comprehensive and definitive collection of the work from China has just been published as a book by EXB Editions entitled Erased and a corresponding solo exhibition of the work is currently on show at theMusée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon sur Saône until September 17th 2023 and will subsequently be shown at the museum of photography Charleroi, Belgium from 30 September 2023 to 28 January 2024.
Bertrand is currently finalizing the editing of his documentary film shot in a French prison and entitled Conversations. And he has recently obtained a creation grant in Luxembourg to work on a new documentary film about an open psychiatry centre.
Bertrand lives in Paris with his partner Juliette and is a member of the Tendance Fleue collective.
In episode 207, Bertrand discusses, among other things:
- Photography as a language
- His previous life as a professional climber
- How he began his longstanding relationship with China
- Current book and exhibition: Erased
- His biggest achievement in China
- His project on his dad and family
- Being ‘lost’ trying to shoot in France
- The importance of teaching people to read photoographs
- The ‘reverse angle’
- His forthcoming documentary about prisoners: Conversations
- His work on psychiatric facility in Luxembourg
- Applying for grants
“Photography is like rock climbing, yeah, you have to focus, but if you do it to make a living? It’s a bad way to make a living. You do it because it’s a passion. It’s your life.”