Portfolio: Alain Keler

From "East winds: Winter " Project - Photo by Alain Keler

From the project "East winds: Winter " - Photo by Alain Keler

    Winner Of W. Eugene Smith Award 1997

East winds: Winter

he Four Seasons, cutting metaphorically evoke the severity level of political and social situation of these minorities at the time I have photographed.

Crisis or existential search for identity, or both, east wind is the first work of a series on life-and-roots of my family. Conducted between 1993 and 2000, East Wind is divided into four parts, the four seasons, within which are mixed issues of minorities in the former communist world in Europe. The boundaries have been removed because there is no difference in pain between the Kosovo Albanians under the Milosevic regime and Chechen Russia under the different regimes in Moscow. Each season represents a level in the situation of these minorities as it was when I travel. In the winter, I have grouped all the minorities who were in dire straits. Spring saw the arrival of hope, was calm and the fall fragile to be a member of a minority in an unstable political environment or situation can switch very quickly for electoral reasons. After having started this work I realized that this work was nothing but a search of my roots.

On September 24, 1997, Independence Square, in the heart of Kiev, capital of Ukraine, I photographed a man selling Mein Kampf, among other books nationalists and fascists.

Four days later, in the same city, we commemorated the massacre of Babi Yar, a district of Kiev, where 33,000 people were murdered by the Nazis, 29 and 30 September 1941.

My grandparents and their youngest daughter aged eleven were arrested in Clermont-Ferrand November 18, 1943. They were left for the journey to the end of the night. The 33 000 people massacred at Babi Yar and my grandparents had in common to be Jewish. It was enough in the eyes of the Nazis and French collaborators to send to a terrible death. They were all part of what was then the largest minority in Europe.

Alain Keler

French photographer Alain Keler used his 1997 Grant to carry on a long-term project documenting cultural and religious minorities in the former European Communist bloc who continue to face persecution by the rising forces of nationalism. According to Keler, his objective is “to show the way of life, the culture and the problems with which minorities are confronted in order to preserve their identities.”

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