“Do you know Jeannette?” that was a question I heard very often once I joined a photoclub in my Parisian neighborhood, the quatorzieme arrondissement, or the petit Montrouge.
So Jeannette would be this one of a kind photographer, with bright cutting edge ideas, sheer originality and creativity, outstanding inspiring talent. Jeannette was a myth and everybody was absolutely enthusiastic about her, mentioning what she did or came up with. Everybody was thrilled to wait and be surprised for her next round of ideas.
Jeannette, as i have seen her here and there was this small frail woman barely able to stand, of an age sufficiently old to be impossible to recount, somewhere well beyond the 80s (or maybe was it the legend about her?). And yet able of the outmost freshness in everything she would do.
I am telling this about her because recently I have read this very interesting post Caitlin Kelly’s blog Broadside in the aftermath of the documentary finding vivian Meier, apparently a terrific movie, which i have not (yet) watched myself about the life of Vivian Meier, a brilliant and unknown photographer.
Now one question that is very exciting and that comes up is the right not to show , not to publish your “art”, your work. The very legitimate question made me think of this other incredible photographer Jeannette. Similarly, in the words as I remember them, by Ms Marie Jo at the club, this half frail sharp and witty woman showed up one day at the club wondering half curious and half sceptic about the pictures she had taken of her kitchen utensils. Immediately Marie Jo understood she had something unique in her eyes and did not let go of the peculiar character.
Jeannette is a woman that could have lived all her life without showing , sharing or talking about her unique talent, so outstanding and so freshly wore as a summer gown. She was not the type of the trendy photographer, not young , a retired woman from an unknown job (or maybe a housewife), somebody you would not see in the street and yet shining for this uniqueness about her.
After joining the club, Jeannette received prizes and praises, maybe one day she will have a full exhibition or documentary about herself. I wonder whether she is happy, or proud or whether being happy was what she was after. She seemed to me one of those people that did something for the pleasure they had from it like Rainer Maria Rilke was saying about writing. I met a lot of them in my thirteen years in Paris, people going quiet about their business and then having a unique talent in something that they ever bored to mention and just enjoyed to practice. They did just care about enjoying it without being recognised for it, without having anything back that their own satisfaction. Probably the most free people I have ever met in many ways, eventhough some of them never travelled and some of them were also recalcitrant to leave the perimeter of Paris intra muros.
I do not know if it is right or wrong to show or not show your art , your work your creations. I just think it is totally cool to create something just for pleasure and not for some use or quest or anything.
Did I see Jeannette’s pictures? No, to my shame I have never have seen properly any. Always thinking I would have another chance and then all of a sudden I finally changed my life and I left to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
I did not see her pictures but I am grateful for this woman that out of any stereotype was looking for pleasure and enjoyment in her life. I am grateful to know that you can do amazing things just because you like to.