Well, sure I can’t speak for all of the French… What makes us happy? Winning a football game against Italy, for starters, or watching some Italian movies, or starring Italian actors, over and over again. I’m thinking of Roberto Benigni in that Jarmush flick, A Night on Earth. I was really happy after that movie, when I left the theatre. So…What makes us happy? Skirts in bloom when spring arrives, there’s all sorts of things, those rare moments of grace in everyday life that temporarily relieve us of our burdens (I won’t indulge in talking of these ones). Photography makes me happy, without photography the world is a grey zone to me, and that occurs quite often in these times. I try to catch people when they don’t look utterly and hopelessly miserable. I am convinced that there’s an inch of poetry left, somewhere, that not all is lost, I believe…Watching people eating doesn’t make me particularly happy, we stuff ourselves with food, so it’s a bit uninteresting, unless you do it in Martin Parr’s fashion, with a touch of irony. Sure, if there’s a couple guys having a few beers after work, it might be fun to see them laughing their pants off. Sorry, poor choice of words. I don’t mean by any means that people should be wasted all the time, even if that’d perhaps make them more confident in front of a camera. Actually, the news from the world and our jobs (for those who have one) are so depressing that catching people still alive and carefree, no matter what their problems might be, being able to see all of that in a picture, if it’s a good picture, restores a bit my faith in humanity. Humanity…it’s unclear what that means, humanity can sometimes be quite nasty, and you get often bored in everyday life. Sam Shepard once said that “life is what happens while you dream of something else”. Everybody dreams, even assholes do (alas!), it’s that kind of daydream that sometimes makes your life a happy life, all the more happy when you reach your goals, like meeting someone special, passing an exam, watching a good movie, falling in love, scoring a goal against Italy, etc. Or, simply, being healthy. There’s people who only need that, or rather: not being sick…that’s it.
© Pierre Montant