When he’s not wearing his lawyer’s robe, Thomas Klotz walks around with his camera slung over his shoulder. After a first book on the peri-urban landscapes of his native north (“Northscape”) and a second centered on the character of his daughter (“Eve, the mountain and the young girl”), this passionate 44-year-old book, still with editions Maison CF, a work on the universe he knows best: justice.
With accuracy and modesty, this renowned penalist offers, through his color shots, a snapshot at human level of this unknown, secret and fantasy-generating universe.
A fascinating portrait of the institution
“I didn’t want to do a report or a documentary, I’m not trying to be exhaustive,” warns Thomas Klotz, claiming the artistic dimension of what he describes as “appropriation work”.
Nevertheless, from the bowels of the Béthune courthouse (Pas-de-Calais) to the filthy walls of a detention center through the benches of a law school, the photographer lawyer offers, through his point from a very subjective point of view, a fascinating portrait of the institution.
One word sums up the production of Thomas Klotz: sensitivity. By his portraits first. Here a trainee clerk all dressed in yellow ready to invest herself fully in a profession that she knows is greedy in time and energy, there a lawyer with azure blue eyes voiceless on the eve of a pleading, elsewhere two young magistrates taken in chiaroscuro whose determination we feel or even this former prisoner who spent 38 years behind bars but whom the system did not break. Their gaze emanates a deep humanity that is sometimes lacking in this world of law.
Of course, this regular in courtrooms is not unaware of the suffering that this universe generates by nature. But here again the artist does not give in to ease and caresses his subject more than he exhibits it.
We are moved by the love that emerges from this couple who devote themselves to the care of their quadriplegic daughter since a car accident.
We scrutinize the lost gaze of this father deprived of his son who left for Japan with his mother. We grasp the healthy and cold anger of this victim of domestic violence and her lawyer who did not obtain the recognition they deserved after a procedural error.
We look at the dignity of this victim of the Mediator who repairs herself by cooking for all her loved ones. Suffering surfaces without ostentation or artifice.
An ability to make the void speak
But the main tour de force of this RC Lens fan who grew up in Arras (Pas-de-Calais) lies in his ability to make the void speak. To suggest. The files that pile up and spread out say everything about this bloodless and submerged justice. The cockroaches carefully slipped into a plastic bag by a lawyer to support the request for release from one of her clients testify wonderfully to the dilapidated state of our prisons. The gilding of the ministry, the patinated benches of an assize court, the empty and old-fashioned chairs of a court are all impressionist touches distilled over these pages embellished with short texts written by writers, lawyers or journalists.
The artist also multiplies photos of bare walls in pale colors: justice can be ugly, that’s a fact. The violence of the prison shock is wonderfully illustrated by this photo of a formica table in a sinister café on which are placed a briquette and a notebook. His caption: “Somewhere in France. 8:58. Apple juice and coloring. Departure for the parlor. »
” Justice “, Editions Maison CF. Released May 5, 2022. 192 pages. 45 euros. The release of the book is accompanied by an exhibition at the Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière, 31 rue Saint-Louis en l’île in Paris (IVe) from May 19 to July 30.