Photography and censorship. “Gang” and “Gangs story” by Yan Morvan.

From my point of view, Yan Morvan is someone apart in the world of photographers. He never complies with anything and just do what he wants without taking care of any rules. That is the reason why I like him alot.

I first heard of him in the 80’s, when I was studying photography. My favorite topic in those days was social photography and I prised this incredible guy. He was spending his life with the most extreme and dangerous part of the population, I mean the extreme right groups, like Hell’s angels or nazis’fan. On his photographs, he seemed to be very close to them and I was wondering how was that possible to just share time with those guys. He was the bad boy of photography, even taking pictures of who will become a serial killer, Guy George. What was very surprising is a kind of empathy for his subject. This was a fair piece of work which witnessed the underground world of fascist groups and the outlaw world.

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He put his life in danger everyday, in first degree I mean, he had to escape from his own apartment when a few guys wanted to kill him after he published some pictures. But overall, he was/is very honnest and never compromises.

I have to admit that this man fascinates me.

Last year was published a beautiful book of his work on gangs called « Gangs story » by La manufacture des images. On July 26th, the book has been banned by a court, on the request of « Petit Mathieu », who appears in the book when he was 17 years old, claiming in a lawsuit, that it doesn’t fit to his actual mind (43 years old now), and feels prejuidice for that.

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The book will be withdrawn on July 31st from bookstores. We have to thank for that, one of the most stupid law all over the world (by Elisabeth Guigou, socialist party, in 2000), which prevail the individual right over public information. The decision is outrageous for the freedom. We can see on the photograph that he was very proud of his former ideas and that the photo was taken with his agreement. Yan Morvan never pretended anything else than what it was.

This is in complete contradiction with a former judgement from 2004 about some anonymous portraits shot in the subway by Luc Delahaye. In a lawsuit, a man tried to claim some prejuidice but was dismissed by the court (article in French :

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This comes after another denial of photgraphers’ rights, with the decision, early this year in Switzerland, to forbid the publication of the book of Christian Lutz « In the name of jesus » which documents a Christian community in Switzerland. The work inside the community happened without any problem but they started to be afraid and prosecuted the photographer to ban the forthcoming book ! Which was successful. The Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne finally exhibited the pictures with a band on them, on which you can read the complaint of the « Evangelic Church of Switzerland »

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In 2000, Marval published a book called « Gang » with photographs of the same series, including the one of « Petit Mathieu » and the book had also been banned in 2002 and was finally sold with a warning on the cover « prohibited ». This first book is, happily now, very easy to find on the second hand market.

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Copyright for all pictures (can be removed on request) Yan Morvan, Luc Delahaye, Christian Lutz, La manufacture du regard, Marval.

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