Joseph Rabie

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Le Contresens de la Vie

Digital photograph, iPhone 12

The title cannot readily be translated into English. The French “le sens de la vie” is “the meaning of life.” A “contresens” is a misinterpretation or misrepresentation. But it also refers to going the wrong way down a one-way street.

The photograph shows an environment that is wholly mineral: asphalt, metal, concrete, and glass. It is the Boissière-Acacia housing estate, under construction in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil. It is a world from which all vegetation appears to have been extirpated.

A million signs surround us, warning us that we have to turn around and go in the opposite direction, that our current way of life is leading to our undoing. The arrow in the road points this out without any ambiguity. Yet our brave couple grasp hands and march stolidly on, as if the program running in their heads tells them that everything’s gonna be all right, everything’s under control, and besides, dealing with future misery is not worth sacrificing the present’s good life.
2022
  • Joseph Rabie

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