Visitors to the Catacombs are invited to discover another approach to death through the eyes of photographer Olivier Mériel.
As a prelude to visiting the Parisian ossuary, the exhibition presents a series of eight images reproduced on canvas of the famous Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, which contain thousands of mummified corpses dressed in period costumes.
Light and shadow guided the photographer in his work, which explores the human condition and its mortuary symbolism. Religious leaders and laymen, men, women and children pose for eternity and are offered for contemplation to today’s Paris Catacombs visitors.
The singularity of Olivier Mériel’s work resides in a perfect mastery of chiaroscuro, which is supported by the exclusive use of a view camera for the 20x25 cm and 30x40 cm shots. Prints were obtained by contact and then platinum- or selenium-toned on high-contrast silver paper.
These powerful images taken by Olivier Mériel in 2006 at Palermo restitute the troubling atmosphere of this singular site.
Christian Gros, former Cultural Action Department Head at the Carnavalet Museum