This project - born of the shared desire with Médecins du Monde to testify to the violence of the world as it is imposed on women - I immersed myself in it with enthusiasm. Without knowing where he would lead me, without measuring the magnitude of what, at the end of the trip, would feed the document that is Unsung Heroes today.
For eight months, in nine countries around the world, more than a hundred trusted me, accepted me behind the microphone, behind the lens. Despite the language barrier, cultural codes and personal hardships, these women have told their story. They broke the silence with courage, sincerity. With tears too, a heartbreaking emotion. All of them posed unvarnished, conscientiously, prepared and accompanied by the NGO. We do not come back intact from such meetings. The reality, frontal and sensitive, goes far beyond the idea I had of it.
From the first portraits in Bulgaria, it was a shock. Meeting with women from the Roma community condemned to marry and give birth as a teenager in the filthy enclosure of a ghetto. Violence and extreme poverty. Moral violence, experienced by the uprooted Syrians and Palestinians. Sexual violence, exerted on women in Congo or Colombia. Domestic violence, gang rape, barbarism. Even in our European capitals where women who are abused, exploited, cornered by precariousness face rejection and hatred.
For thirty years, I have photographed many women in representation. They expected a smooth, controlled, smooth image from me. Here, with the unsung heroes I’ve encountered, it’s the shadows coming into the light. Bruises and cracks on the surface of the skin, in the hollow of the eyes. The voices, the words, the authentic timbre of the intimate experience of violence are expressed. To say the particular suffering experienced by women. To also say the strength of being a woman. The ability to get up and fight, again.