Woman Particolare: Anne de Vandière
Anne De Vandière is a French photographer actively involved in various humanitarian causes. This is a woman who is passionately inspired and inspires others to be passionate… The definition of a Particolare Woman.
Anne De Vandière is a French photographer actively involved in various humanitarian causes. Several years ago, she initiated the Association “Tribus du Monde” completely dedicated to certain ethnic groups or tribes, that represent the human origins of our planet and are threatened by the ongoing march of the world.
Her spectacular black and white silver process photographs and her numerous articles and videos have shown repeatedly the exceptional cultural richness and ressources of these ethnic groups, the incredible wealth of their “savoir faire” or know how and the importance of their philosophy, founded on transmission.
Alongside these humanitarian projects, a collection of Anne’s photographs “A Main Levée” was showcased as part of the Chanel Exhibition “Métiers d’Art” in Tokyo in 2022 showing the extraordinary spirit at work in the ateliers of the artistic firms working for Chanel by photographing the hands of their craftsmen.
Also, in the same year, her latest book H/AND was published by Éditions Intervalles.
This is a woman who is passionately inspired and inspires others to be passionate… The definition of a Particolare Woman.
As a woman of many talents, you were not a photographer originally. How did you become one?
After several years working in Publicity as a fashion style advisor and copywriter, and then as a journalist reporter for several printed magazines, I had collected quite an impressive series of black and white photographs, entitled H/AND, the main subject being the hand. Around that time, the photographer who worked closely with me decided to quit suddenly so I decided then and there to follow my dream and become a photographer myself so as to have greater possibilities of freedom of action and creativity.
Hands are very present in your photographs and you have just published the third volume of your book, of which the title is H/AND. Why does this part of the body interest you so much?
To portray hands as a portrait is very revealing, as the photography of hands implies a story of personal encounters and the meeting of people. These hand portraits represent MY encounters. The hand is what one holds out towards another person, it explores, it is sensitive or touchy and it touches. It is central to all communication. It is one of the earliest symbols of human communication, certainly one of the first. All these hands of people that I personally met, photographed and interviewed were a gift of memories. Hands would gesture and portray their own life histories, each with a very different type of story, which were expressed without concession.
Even when hands are made up with makeup, they are unable to lie… interesting!!
You travel abroad far and beyond with your Association "Tribus du Monde" to discover and meet up with ethnic groups. How do you communicate and exchange with these tribes?
I started off in Senegal in 2009 and till my trip to Oman in 2019, I had travelled over every continent, visited 20 countries and I had photographed and interviewed many men and women belonging to 60 different ethnic groups. My focus was always on their hands, their beautiful hand gestures, their exceptional know how and their philosophy of transmission. Also, their extraordinary link between themselves and Mother Earth. Each encounter depended on the person who accompanied me: ornithologist, ethno linguist, marine archaeologist, art critic, sociologist. All these professionals had a common denominator: a perfect knowledge of the people that I would meet and share their lives for some time...
On arrival at a village, the first visit is to the village Chief and the Elders where I ask permission to portray the different personalities, knowledge, skills and know-how of the tribe. Discussion is always rather serious to start with but becomes soon light and joyful. Permission has always been granted to me as long as I was respectful towards the members of the tribe…
Anne de Vandière, India, Odisha
First contacts are always instigated through the women who, as mothers and essential workers of their community, are the heart and soul of these communities… By showing photos of my children (a gesture which is the universal way to make contact with another woman) by cooking together, by communicating as best as possible often by sign language and hand gestures, by laughing a lot together… soon, the magic starts to work, communication flows and the link between us is established. We become friends and sisters.
©Anne de Vandière, Karo Tribe, Ethiopia
As a Parisian, your everyday life is very different to the lives of the people you meet in these tribes... what differences are the ones that affect you the most?
I have realised that if you operate outside your comfort zone as much as possible and give yourself the opportunity to see new horizons it is a real gift. What really affects me when I leave Paris which is my base, is when I discover a new view of Mother Earth and its fantastic resources, its diverse fauna, flora, landscapes, and climates… in one word, its BEAUTY.
Geopoetry, geopolitics, geography. The differences are everywhere; they dazzle me, they reach out and speak to me and I become a citizen of the world. As for the men and women, especially the women that I have met living very far away from Europe, I observe the same expectancy, feelings and underlying fundamentals…
Feminity is basically universal, only the setting or décor changes.
You work very closely with the world of fashion and the luxury goods industry. Your Photographic Exhibition in the Nexus Hall in Tokyo "À MAINS LEVÉES" showcased the craftsmen working in the ateliers of "Métiers d'Art" houses that work with Chanel, like La Maison Michel (hats), la Maison Lemarié (feather and flower crafting), les ateliers Gossens (goldwork), Lesage and Montex (embroidery), Loignon (pleats) and Massaro (bespoke creative footwear). What have you observed in these prestigious ateliers or workshops?
It was an absolute delight for me to be able to wander and take photographs in the 19M, which is a building in Paris designed specifically for the Chanel Fashion House’s “Metiers d’Art” where these ateliers are now housed. I found myself in a spectacular and elegant “behind the scenes” world, a place of superb French craftsmanship and “savoir faire” … representing the best of French design and creativity.
I was fortunate to be able to photograph the hands of the artisans who work so passionately and painstakingly in the ateliers around the work benches, the embroidery machines or pleating tables with such dexterity and elegance. These men and women, absolute masters of spectacular craftsmanship, create wonderfully diverse environments according to the atelier that they represent and display elegant hand gestures that are totally personal to them.
My photographs that have just been showcased in Tokyo enthused the Japanese public and they were very keen to discover and admire these exceptional hand gestures, which in spite of their traditional transmission from generation to generation, the artisans are also very open to innovation and are rapidly incorporating new technology. I very much hope to present my series of photographs to the French public very soon.
You objective consists of capturing a moment. What is your own relationship to the notion of Time?
My relationship to Time has completely changed since I have started to live amongst Tribal groups. In Paris I am often in too much of a hurry, often stressed out and rather disorganized in relation to the urban criteria of Time. The ethnic communities have unconsciously educated and transformed me. In the villages where I was comfortably settled, life depended on the slow tempo of the sunrise and sunset. I realized very quickly that these people gave me a real sense of peace by instilling in me beliefs by talking about the wind and the forest and by teaching me about their plants, herbs and sacred bark. They know how to regulate Time and they know when we are able to receive teaching or initiation.
Having just got back from a trip to the Massai Tribes, you are interviewing and photographing some of the best-known French actors with the eneergy and creativity typical of the Particolare Woman. Which women inspire you in your everyday life?
Yes… interviewing and photographing actors like Guillaume Gallienne and Isabelle Carré, or female authors like Clara Luciani are great moments. Other interviews or portraits of women are either because of their commitment towards ecology like Valerie Cabanes a renowned Expert on Natural Law and Ecocide crimes or their immeasurable support towards distressed women who have been exiled, uprooted or martyred like Gadha Hatem who has founded “La Maison des Femmes”.
©Anne de Vandière, portrait of Isabelle Carré
However, the women that inspire me the most are those that I have called the sentries of the earth, “Les Sentinelles de la Terre”.
These are the charismatic female figures of their tribal villages, living on the far side of the earth, but who speak, in spite of their differences, with one voice to the sacred Spirits and to their Mother Earth. They are all very preoccupied with climate change, and while they have given me the keys to alert people to the threatening ongoing march of the world, they also hope that I will continue to help them personally.
Finally, which bag would you like to choose from the range at Object Particolare?
This is a difficult choice as I very much appreciate the strong personality of each bag of this Object Particolare collection.
However, since I must choose one, I would like to opt for the Pina B bag. It represents everything that I like… it is simple, elegant, of a graphic style and very practical... the perfect design! The colours are so joyful (I opt for fuchsia) and I can easily fit my computer and camera inside.