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Welcome Back to Mars

Welcome to Mars


Welcome to Mars

This was shot in the summer of 2005, on Mars, the only Mars I know on Earth, in Pennsylvania. I was engaged then in a rabid outcry against the War in Iraq, had documented many protests against it, key moments of American politics, and symbolic aspects of American weirdness in the previous 12 years.

All this work became unified under the title
Life on Mars, because of this photograph showing a surreal scene all too American with its apparent detachment from the reality experienced in Europe. This scene also symbolized the kitsch gentleness which seems to be part of the American DNA, but also hides an odd personality disorder. That disorder often manifests itself in war mongering and a sense of entitlement that we Europeans don't see in us, even if Americans on the whole, resemble us, mostly. This series therefore look at Americans as if they were extra terrestrials, a sort of Invaders if you will (you know, the TV series). Of course if extra terrestrials, Americans must be from Mars, since it is one of the biggest planets, is green like the Dollar, and is the God of War.

My Good Fellow Americans,

I have to write that I am proud to be one of you, even if from recent history. I could not have written that when that photograph was shot, in 2005, and it quickly became the icon of my series
Life on Mars, a documentary work on the craziness of the Bush era, American politics, and caricatural aspects of American culture, seen from an unforgiving European perspective.

Today this photograph should be re-baptised with a more suiting title:
Welcome Back to Mars. Mars, the God of war. Because whether we have declared it or not, we are obviously at war, and with Russia of all countries. But this time we are on the good side, and boy, what a good side that is! Even Hitler could not unite the good part of the world against him as fast as Putin did. Or probably, we just have grown since.

I grew up during the cold war, in France, not all that far from the demarcation line, even if the only connection we had with the other side then, was the Mistral, that cold wind that sweeps the Rhône Valley at times, and comes all the way from the Oural Mountains, the very eastern edge of Europe. Later, the same ways brought us the Chernobyl radioactive cloud. This should have taught us to be more guarded against Russia, if we could.

During all my youth, and until these past weeks, as maybe many of you, I never felt threatened by Russia, I even started my photographic journey and subsequent career, on a Russian cruise liner in 1972 ... Russians could be charming, or annoying at times, but difficult to take seriously. Hence the general wonder whether NATO served any purpose. Nobody wonders about that anymore, more than covid, Putin's madness has re-shaped the world, and under glorious American leadership.

President Biden said during the recent State of the Union, that
never had he envisioned a brighter future for this Country. "Folks," if I may, I believe that is true. Before long Putin will be dead or jailed, and it then will only be a matter of time, before the West extends all the way to Vladivostok. What a different world then, so much more peaceful, even if not totally, under American hegemony like never before.

So while these days are trying, they do carry a lot of brightness, we can be sure of that. May that feeling help us help Ukraine and Europe in all the possible ways,