Mathieu Pernot


France is the first country to insert a photograph in the identification system for foreigners. This regulation, imposed on immigrants since 1917, was extended to the national population during the Vichy regime. Made between 1995 and 1997, his series Photobooths questions this system of standardization used in identity photography and endured for more than a century by the Gypsy people. With the help of a group of children, he diverts the photobooth that delivers official identity portraits. Their spontaneous reactions to the machine establish their individuality despite the rigor of the device. This series of portraits constitutes a real theater of expressions. From tears to laughs, the faces evoke the brutal process of normalization prescribed by society, but also the possibility of an existence outside of these established codes. And the children finally fully take hold of the machine by turning the booth into a playground. (Credit: Extrait de la série Photomatons © Mathieu Pernot, Courtesy Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris)