Walked the Way Home
* 1973 in Salt-Lake-City, USA, lives and works in Paris, FRA
studied at the Brown University in Providence, USA
Holding the camera in front of him, Eric Baudelaire walks through Rome and Paris and records soldiers moving about in the metropolis in pairs or small groups. They are heavily armed but usually appear relaxed, observing their surroundings or chatting with each other. People populating the streets walk around them quite naturally, pursuing their everyday lives. They are listless passers-by, innocent civilians, residents of the city, and tourists.
The title Walked the Way Home was inspired by Alvin Curran’s eponymous composition from 1973, whose melancholy tone brings to mind the tragedy of the theme. In the visual language of the video, Baudelaire shows the encounter between himself and the city, between armed persons and a civilian population. The portrait format connects the view of the city with the view through the smartphone camera, which has become a matter of course nowadays, allowing one to document all events in one’s personal universe on a daily basis. The camera lens is repeatedly pointed to the eyes of the soldiers and establishes contact between the opposite parties. In slow motion, each and every detail becomes visible. Each gaze, movement, and step is charged with meaning, and each supposed twitch of the trigger finger passes by in the flow of motion.
The presence of soldiers and police officers on which the camera’s lens repeatedly focuses in a natural way, would perhaps elude the everyday, preoccupied gaze when strolling through the city. After all, the picture of security forces has crept into the cityscapes and become a normal condition. But the armed persons are indeed a symptom of terror that struck Paris at the Bataclan and the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, for example, or became tangible in Rome through the threats of the IS. They mark not only a need for security but also the until today unhealed wounds and scars that the attacks have left behind in the population.
In his mostly media-based works, Baudelaire regularly addresses the thematic complex of historiography, which he overlaps and confronts with individualized components. The artificial stringency of a national history is interwoven with personal chronicles, and unambiguousness is dissolved in a diversity of meanings and a perspectivation of truth.
In the 1980s and 1990s, soldiers started appearing on the streets of Paris and other French cities, in public spaces, at regular intervals. It was part of 'Operation Pirate Vigil' and it usually lasted a few months after a terrorist attack occurred, then the soldiers disappeared until the next attack. In 2015, they appeared in great numbers ('Operation Reinforced Pirate Vigil') and stayed a while. They are still around, three years on. These are short videos that I shot on my way home from the studio in Paris. I kept the habit of filming around my studio and my home when I moved to Rome. Then I met Alvin Curran, an American musician who has been living in Rome since the 1960s. His 1973 song «Walked the Way Home» inspired me to edit these images into a little film, titled after Alvin’s song.