The Mediterranean is one of three central themes of the 2014 Paris Month of Photography. Many exhibitions which focus on this theme are exhibited at venues throughout the city. Here is a preview, with an introduction by curators Giovanna Calvenzi and Laura Serani.

The Mediterranean: the “Mare Nostrum” of the Roman world has served, for centuries, as the cradle of the Western world's most ancient civilizations. Languages, cultures, religions, songs, perfumes, customs and rituals all meet there. The Mediterranean is and has been many things: a touristic destination, a stage for tragedy, a path for migrants.

Facing the multitude of co-existing cultures and the complex social and political realities of today, photography represents a decisive instrument to reflect, document and denounce (or perpetuate) memory. Through it, all the languages, all the grammars, all the techniques become possible. The incisive ability of photojournalism to witness, from many views, the profound crisis which affects Greece; the documentary language, theorized by Walker Evans, to tell the story of the French coasts; the myth of Ulysses and his odyssey revisited through the prism of a smartphone; or a video that evokes the memories of family and retrieves the testimonies of those who were forced into exile.

Venice and Sicily, Israel and Morocco, Algeria and Spain — places described by authors who voyaged across time, space and into their memories. The geographic pretext of the Mediterranean (whose borders can be both precise and precarious) offers a construct that we find to be declined by the gaze of young and mature alike. 

The permanence of traditions, the antagonism of cultures, the rich and the miserable, hopes and tragedies become interlaced through these projects. The gathered photos and exhibitions rediscover and retrace personal memories; follow the adventure of migrations; and present the desire of “normality” for people whose dreams recall the models of Western capitalism. 

Finally, these exhibitions contain the idea of the voyage, which is intrinsically linked to the sea. Whether one is riding on a giant cruise boat or a fragile inflatable raft, whether for pleasure or necessity, everyone sets out with the dream of somehow reaching these historic cities, these places of hope.

—Giovanna Calvenzi and Laura Serani, curators

Editor's Note:
Mois de la Photo will officially run all across Paris through November, though many exhibitions will continue for several months. A full list of the exhibitions that fall under the theme "Anonymous and Famous Amateurs" can be found at the festival's official website.