Les pages images
Grouped within the Association Excit'œil, the patrons assembled all the information about the commune regarded as essential for disseminating the identity of their village properly: festive, sporting, cultural and commercial events. Two types of medium, a small-format one that could easily be distributed to any visitor, and a large-format one intended for the major traffic routes, seemed to be required. Moreover, the association's thinking culminated in the decision that it would be necessary to find an original and individualised form for these, far removed from the usual media vehicles. It was essential to ask an artist to come up with a portrait of the commune that could be generally distributed. The mediator suggested bringing in Jean-Luc Moulène.
Each of the 100 images finally selected succeeds in uniting an instant and eternity in that they go beyond the subject on its own to elevate it into a universal visual sign by means of artistic treatment through the medium of photography. The artist assigned his rights over the pictures to the patrons, who can thus use them freely in many different ways. The work can evolve, giving rise to a variety of events. Four pictures have been chosen by France Télécom to make a set of 200,000 collectors' mobicartes (mobile-phone top-up cards). To enrich this work in progress further, the four basic mobicartes have been used as the subject of the outside back cover of the directory of pictures. Other pictures were chosen to widen the method of distribution: postcards, posters, cinema programmes… The portrait of Excideuil is being embodied through the widest range of mediums in use in our communication society, which are thus endowed with an unaccustomed poetic dimension.
In 1997, for Documenta, an international contemporary art event, Moulène had already designed a work taking the topics of any communication campaign as a paradigm. He has therefore spent time looking at magazines, advertising hoardings, etc. As an extension of that experience, the commission for Excideuil was of interest to him: I suggested a directory because it was a medium intended for the whole population, it is in everyday use and by a full listing both of the people and their roles it attempts to answer the multiplicity of possibilities identified. While to start with his project struck the patrons as being too distant from their reality, too abstract, he gradually succeeded in persuading them. The capture of instants of life that suggest rather then specifically spelling out the activity of the commune imparts a poetic dimension to the pictures which in the end touched a chord with the residents of the commune. It took a year for Les Pages Images to be accepted by everyone as representing the village.