“When Kate died, I stayed at home for a year without moving. Without moving at all...". Jane Birkin was devastated by the tragic disappearance of her eldest daughter on December 11, 2013. Ten years after her death, a book and several exhibitions will highlight Kate Barry, a discreet photographer with a sensitive art who lived in the shadow of the stars and of course his mother, his first inspiration. “We wanted to discover the sometimes little-known work of Kate Barry for the tenth anniversary of her death”, at the age of 46, explains Isabelle Dartois, head of Éditions de La Martinière which publishes Kate Barry My Own Space. space, literally in French).
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The first real collection by the artist, daughter of Jane Birkin and the British composer John Barry, this book gave its name to the photographer's “first retrospective”, held at the Nicéphore Nièpce museum, in Chalon-sur-Saône, according to Sylvain Besson, author of the work and curator at the Nièpce museum. It is to this space, which bears the name of the inventor of photography, that in 2021, Kate Barry's family bequeathed all of her negatives, her digital production, her contact sheets...
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This retrospective closes on September 17 but will be presented in two Parisian locations, including the brand new Quai de la Photographie from December 15. A second Parisian exhibition will take place “later in 2024” in a still secret location, Sylvain Besson was told. In Burgundy, an exhibition entitled Kate Barry, portraits will be held from September 29 to March 15, 2024, at the Veuve Ambal house, patron of the Nièpce museum, near Beaune in Côte-d'Or. This succession of events aims to repair the relative oblivion in which Kate Barry, a photographer who has always avoided the light, has remained. “She was shy,” recalls Sylvain Besson. “She did not want to be in the spotlight,” unlike her family environment where the image was omnipresent, her mother and her stepfather Serge Gainsbourg constantly being in the spotlight. Of the huge stars to whom she had access thanks to her family, she produced tender, very intimate but never indiscreet photos even when they were tinged with eroticism, from Helena Bonham Carter to Sophie Marceau, including Monica Bellucci or Catherine Deneuve . But these exhibitions and this book want to go beyond the portraits to “show the diversity of his work”, explains Sylvain Besson, referring to the very striking landscape photos. A bare sky or a bare tree show, as in the portraits, “a writing that goes to the essential,” writes Lola Lafon, writer and singer, in the preface to the book. For her, “Kate Barry’s photographs go to the bone.”