Reciprocity 2015

Tom Penn selected thirty-one images from the thousands of photographs taken in more than twenty-five countries. All these photographs, realized over the past thirty years, are a response in image form to certain questions, an instinctive necessity that I approached through varied themes.
Tom and I were complicit in our exchanges, although not always in agreement on the pertinence of the juxtaposition or the succession of two images, or even, the decision to leave another alone on the page. A black face is placed next to a green plant, a fire ball opposite monochrome shadow, a melancholy mirror of water responds to a bronze mirror from Vietnam; the intense gaze of a child, alone. Tom’s selection is the synthesis of his perfect knowledge of my work.
Blanca Bernheimer wished that I show a self-portrait within this book. The most relevant appeared to be the one from my latest project, REFLECTION, an exploration of the idea of otherness and infinity, through flecks of mercury mirrors.
The idea of reciprocity and recognition is essential in my work as a portraitist and in my study on Mirrors, but more generally in the choice of subjects that I photograph, whatever they may be. Self-image, the way we see others, the appropriation of the world through the eye. As one said, the other wrote “Things are not as we see them, we see them as we are.”
Over and above my photographic work, in life - and this holds for everyone, I think - that feeling of recognition, of familiarity that enables encounters is the basis of the relationship between two people, a tie that bridges divisions of age and culture. The reciprocity of the gaze, and thoughts shared with Irving Penn have been for me the most remarkable, unique and authentic for many years. The reciprocity I have with Tom Penn, today, my friend of twenty years, carries that same two-way, complementary transmission.

The following authors contributed to this work:
• Emanuel Ungaro, leading fashion designer
• Tom Penn, president of the Irving Penn Foundation