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by Benoit Paillé

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An image of Paillé’s—from the World Rainbow Gathering in Guatemala—slid across my dash several months ago.

Intrigued, I quickly found his candid portraits of illegal Ivorian immigrants working as “beaters” outside Paris’ Chateau D’eau Station. Despite the conceptually problematic aspects of the project—fetishizing alterity, for starters—the detail and precise exposure control floored me.

The majority of his works causes me to suffer an uncharacteristic loss for words. I am never particularly enamored with his choice of subjects and I think his use of color borders on gratuitous hyper-stylization. But damn if I don’t absolutely dig his eye.

However, the thing that makes his work so distinct is for me less a visual signature and more an attitude toward the subject. I’ve found it’s always stupid to try to say something that has already been said well better, so there’s this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

            You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.

To my eye, that is what makes a Benoit Paillé image so unique—he seems less concerned with taking a picture than offer his camera as a means of recording the intrinsic truth that comes from sharing a holy moment.

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