Focusing on others
Portrait of photograph Jean-Félix Fayolle
The nantais Jean-Félix Fayolle, age 28, left his International Trade books for a camera. Open minded, curious and always on the move, this young photographer travels through Latin America to take pictures of ghetto gangs. A risky life that nurtures his projects: an 8 year old association (Kouakilariv' - literally “What ever happens”) and a original photo workshop involving youngsters from a countryside village as well as a popular distric in the Nantes area (Couffkoff).
Photos and ring binders
After his Baccalauréat he wanted to fulfil this desire to go “somewhere else”. His International Trade degree in Nantes was preceded, interrupted, followed by a couple of stays in Europe : one year abroad next to Lake Constance in Germany, a trip to Valencia (Spain) and an Erasmus year at University of Birkenfeld (Germany, again). The photos and ring binders reappeared.
This student was clearly looking for something. Along with two friends, in February 2004 he created the Kouakilariv' association. The aim: “To build up a social and international project, a bridge between children of Eastern and Western Europe” while ten new countries were entering in the European Union. Sadly the project collapsed and the association was put to one side for the time being.
In Nantes, he relentlessly took photographs of a city in the middle of a urban and architectural revolution. The final result? A 300-page book named “Nantes vue d'autre Œil” [Nantes seen differently], but, though printed with his own money, it proved to be unsellable. The photos and ring-binders are never far away.
But the great adventure of this polyglot (he speaks fluent German, English, French, Spanish and has some basic knowledge in Polish, Italian and Chinese) is Latin America. In the city of San Luis Potosi (Centre-North of Mexico), Pavón district, 5 years ago, he met Los Tropilocos 21 a local gang, for the first time. “When I told native Mexicans that I was living there, the response was: 'You’re mad'. But I was fascinated by this unknown environment and had one question on my mind: 'Why do people of my age live this way?'”.
Talent is everywhere
Back in Nantes he re-launched his Kouakilariv' association with the Couffkoff project. Teenagers from the Couffé village on one side and from the Malakoff district of Nantes on the other. First they take pictures of their own surroundings, and then of the every-day life of the other neighbourhood only 30 kilometres away.
The Couffkoff exhibition and a 26-minute-long film have been on tour since spring 2011. His new work Nous aussi on a du talent à Malakoff [We also have talent in Malakoff] was presented in Saint-Nazaire on the 27th of April. “Throughout my travels and the various encounters I have made, I learnt a lot about myself, but also the importance of reaching out to others.”. It is often those who have lived through the most, who are the most modest.