Patrick Zachmann

Born in 1955 - France


Patrick Zachmann (b. 1955, Paris) says he became a photographer because he has no memory. He
affirms his desire to reconstruct it, by reconstituting the family albums that he never had. A
photojournalist and director, he has built up a body of work that consistently deals with questions
of identity, memory and the immigration of various communities. From 1982 to 1984, he worked
on the integration of young immigrants in the northern suburbs of Marseille. In 1983, he published
his first book, Madonna!, deeply entrenched in the violence of the Neapolitan mafia. Two years
later, he joined the Magnum agency and became a member in 1990.
The book Enquête d’identité: Un juif à la recherche de sa mémoire (1987) draws closer to his own
past. It is the fruit of a seven-year period of research. In 1989, his reportage on the events of
Tiananmen Square, widely disseminated throughout the world, marked the start of his work on
the Chinese diaspora. As the “photographer of what cannot be said”, as opposed to an action
photographer, he has never retreated in the face of the long investigations required to speak the
unspoken. It was not until 1995, for instance, that he was able to publish W. or The Eye of a Longnose,
on Chinese immigration.
At the same time, he has developed a long-term work on the suburbs that was presented in 2009
at the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris as well as in the book published by
Éditions Xavier Barral : Ma proche banlieue. In the series Mare/Mater, he brings face to face his
familial story with the one of the actual migrants between the two Mediterranean rives. This
series was exhibited at the MuCEM Museum in Marseille in 2013, followed by the Niépce Museum
in Chalon-sur-Saône.
He has received numerous distinctions, including the Niépce Prize in 1989. More recently, he
received a grant from the French Délégation aux arts plastiques (DAP) and the Special Price of Gan
Foundation for the Cinema for his first fictional film project “Mister Wu”.

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