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Upon Joseph-Philippe Bévillard’s move from the US to Ireland at the beginning of the new millennium, he hailed a taxi ride from Shannon Airport. Just minutes into the ride, he caught his first glimpse into the world of Irish Travellers (also known as Mincéirs). Witnessing their effervescent spirit and nomadic lifestyle captivated Bévillard, and ignited something personal in him. A seed was planted that would, many years and many friendships later, change his course and life as an artist, and lead to his most defining and celebrated body of work, presented here, for the first time, in book form.
In the tradition of the great documentary photographers that he admires, Bévillard has the knack of rendering chaotic real-life situations into magnificently composed images. At other times, in striking portraits, the photographer’s lens is met with the honest and powerful gaze of his subject(s). The photographs are most often saturated in bright colors that provide an engaging contrast to the frequently grey Irish skies or the often drab, makeshift backdrops in various halting sites and social housing estates. Yet beyond the their photographic qualities, each of the 90 fluently sequenced plates in Mincéirs gives “clarity to this very unique part of Irish Heritage and shines a light of respect on a group of people who continue to fight for recognition and visibility,” as writer Peggy Sue Amison states in her insightful essay presented in Mincéirs. Bévillard documents everyday life as well as weddings, funerals, Catholic ceremonies, and holidays. In doing so, a universal chord is also struck, with the photographs addressing larger themes that are common to the human experience: the wonder and struggles of childhood, the nature of play, coming of age, gender roles, family, and the role of animals in relationship to humans. In the end, it is Bévillard’s compassionate nature and perceptive eye that renders a poignant, genuine, and humanistic debut monograph.
“Joseph-Philippe Bévillard’s close personal understanding of what it is like to be considered different through his own life experience resonates in each image included in Mincéirs. These sensitive and beautifully seen moments are what give this series of photographs their unique agency. Each image carries within it the potential to help break down stereotypes and work towards dispelling past misunderstandings.” —Peggy Sue Amison, from the essay in Mincéirs
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, JOSEPH-PHILIPPE BÉVILLARD started drawing and painting after losing his hearing at the age of three. He became interested in photography in high school and formally began studying photography in 1985 at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1990, Bévillard continued his studies at the Art Institute of Boston, where he began sharpening his photographic style while shooting square format black and white portraits of people he met in nightclubs and on the street. After working for several major photo labs in Massachusetts in the latter half of the 90s, he moved to Ireland at the beginning of the Millennium to start his property management business. In 2007, he returned to photography, creating images in the manner of his portrait work of the early 90s. In 2010, he started a new project that would largely define his photographic course moving forward: photographing communities of Irish Travellers (aka Mincéirs). These documentary photographs, shot in vibrant color, have been widely celebrated and have most recently earned him the 15th Pollux Award (Overall Winner). Mincéirs is Bévillard’s first book.
PEGGY SUE AMISON (USA/IRE) is the Artistic Director for East Wing—a platform for photography founded in Doha, Qatar. As a curator, writer, strategist, mentor and photographic consultant, Amison collaborates with numerous emerging and established photographers, publications, and organizations internationally. Prior to working with East Wing, Amison was Artistic Director of Sirius Arts Centre in Ireland (2001-2014) where she headed a multidisciplinary visual arts exhibition and residency program. She is also a past Board Member of Belfast Photography Festival and collaborator with PICTURE BERLIN in Germany where she presently lives and works.
350 copies plus 50 special-edition copies
Published by Skeleton Key Press, April 2021
29 x 21.5 cm (11.4 x 8.5 in)
Hardcover, clothbound back cover & spine/printed front cover, 144 pages, 94 color plates, offset printed
Edited by Russell Joslin
Book design by Russell Joslin
Essay by Peggy Sue Amison
Text in English