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Christophe Agou (1969 – September 2015) was a French documentary photographer and street photographer who lived in New York City. His work has been published in books and is held in public collections. He was a member of the In-Public street photography collective.
From the early 1990s, Agou made documentary-style photographs in both black and white and color which take an allusive approach to the human condition. He also made short films and sculpture. In 1992, he moved to New York City. He began taking photographs in the streets that evoked a sense of longing and isolation. He made photographs at Ground Zero on September 11th, 2001, which were used in numerous publications. He first came to prominence with photographs taken in the New York City Subway, published in his book Life Below (2004).
In 2002 Agou returned to Forez. He traveled to the lesser-known parts of the region and got to know a community of family farmers whose identities are deeply rooted to the land. He photographed and filmed them at work and at home for eight years. This resulted in Face au Silence / In the Face of Silence, a documentary about rural life in early twenty-first century France. The work won him the 2010 European Publishers Award for Photography, and publication in six editions and in six languages.
Agou died in September 2015 of cancer.
Publications by Agou
- Life Below: The New York City Subway. New York: Quantuck Lane Press, 2004. ISBN 1-59372-008-4.
- Face au Silence. Text by John Berger.
- Face au Silence. Arles: Actes Sud, 2010. ISBN 2-7427-9542-1.
- In the Face of Silence. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2011. ISBN 1-907893-04-0.
- Aπέναντι Στη Σιωπή. Apeiron Photos, 2011. ISBN 960-94490-2-6.
- Ante el Silencio. Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 2011. ISBN 978-84-9785-718-5.
- Gesichter der Stille. Berlin: Edition Braus, 2011. ISBN 3-86228-003-9.
- Di Fronte al Silenzio. Rome: Peliti Associati, 2011. ISBN 88-89412-47-X.
- Les Faits Secondaires. Christophe Agou, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4675-7085-5. Texts by Agou and John Berger. Poems by Daniel De Bruycker. Edition of 700 copies.
Publications with contributions by Agou
- 10 – 10 Years of In-Public. London: Nick Turpin Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9563322-1-9. Includes an essay by Jonathan Glancey, "Outlandish Harmony"; a foreword by Nick Turpin; and a chapter each by Agou, Nick Turpin, David Gibson, Richard Bram, Matt Stuart, Andy Morley-Hall, Trent Parke, Narelle Autio, Jesse Marlow, Adrian Fisk, Nils Jorgensen, Melanie Einzig, Jeffrey Ladd, Amani Willett, Gus Powell, Otto Snoek, Blake Andrews, David Solomons, George Kelly and Paul Russell.
- Photographers' Sketchbooks. London: Thames & Hudson, 2014. ISBN 9780500544341. Edited by Stephen McLaren and Bryan Formhals.
Films by Agou
- Face au Silence = In the Face of Silence (2011).[a]
Films with Agou
- In-Sight (2011). 38-minute documentary directed and edited by Nick Turpin, commissioned by Format for the Format International Photography Festival, Derby, 2011. Includes interviews with Agou, Richard Bram, Melanie Einzig, David Gibson, Jesse Marlow, Gus Powell, Otto Snoek, David Solomons, and Nick Turpin, and shows them at work.[b]
- Face au silence. Rencontres d'Arles Festival, Arles, France. 18 November 2011 – 21 January 2012.
- Face au silence. Fait & Cause Galerie, Paris, France. 18 November 2011 – 14 January 2012.
- Face au silence. Musée d'art Roger Quilliot (MARQ), Clermont-Ferrand, France. 26 January – 29 April 2012.
- Face au silence. Galerie Intervalle, Paris, France. 3 September – 11 October 2014.
- in-public @ 10, Photofusion, Brixton, London, 28 May – 9 July 2010. Travelled to Les Ballades Photographiques de Seyssel, Seyssel, France, 12–23 July 2011, where it also included the film In-Sight (2011) and The French exhibition by Nick Turpin. Included photographs by In-Public members Agou, Nick Turpin, David Gibson, Richard Bram, Matt Stuart, Andy Morley-Hall, Trent Parke, Narelle Autio, Adrian Fisk, Nils Jorgensen, Jesse Marlow, Melanie Einzig, Jeffrey Ladd, Amani Willett, Gus Powell, Otto Snoek, Blake Andrews, David Solomons, George Kelly and Paul Russell.
- Street Photography Now, Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, 10 October – 14 November 2010. Photographs featured in the book Street Photography Now (2011) by Agou as well as Arif Aşçı, Narelle Autio, Polly Braden, Bang Byoung-Sang, Maciej Dakowicz, Carolyn Drake, Melanie Einzig, George Georgiou, David Gibson, Bruce Gilden, Thierry Girard, Andrew Z. Glickman, Siegfried Hansen, Markus Hartel, Nils Jorgensen, Richard Kalvar, Martin Kollar, Jens Olof Lasthein, Frederic Lezmi, Jesse Marlow, Jeff Mermelstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Mimi Mollica, Trent Parke, Martin Parr, Gus Powell, Mark Alor Powell, Bruno Quinquet, Paul Russell, Otto Snoek, Matt Stuart, Ying Tang, Alexey Titarenko, Nick Turpin, Munem Wasif, Alex Webb, Amani Willett, Michael Wolf, Artem Zhitenev and Wolfgang Zurborn.
- 2015: The Sharp Eye. In-Public in Mexico, Foto Mexico, Cine Tonalá, Mexico City, Mexico, October–November 2015. Slideshow of photographs by Agou, Andrews, Bram, Dakowicz, Einzig, Fisk, Gibson, Tod Gross, Hansen, Jorgensen, Kelly, Marlow, Morley-Hall, Parke, Gus Powell, Mark Powell, Russell, Snoek, Solomons, Stuart, Turpin, and Willett. Curated by Mark Powell, Carlos Álvarez Montero and Alfredo Esparza.
- 1999: Attention Talent Photo Award Fnac
- 2000: Project Competition - Santa Fe Prize for Photography
- 2002: Magazine Picture of the Year - Honorable Mention
- 2002: Ai-AP American Photography Award
- 2006: W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography - Finalist
- 2008: Prix de la Photographie de l’Académie des Beaux-Arts de Paris - Finalist
- 2009: Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique - Special Mention
- 2010: European Publishers Award for Photography - Winner
- 2012: CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée). Commission for Sans Adieu.
- 2013: CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée)[vague]
Agou's work is held in the following public collections:
- La Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France
- Musée d'art Roger Quilliot (MARQ), Clermont-Ferrand, France
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
- Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
- The Akron Art Museum Akron, OH
- Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona, FL
- New York Public Library, New York, NY
- Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
- New-York Historical Society, New York, NY
- Fonds national d'art contemporain (FNAC), Paris, France
- The Joy of Giving Something, New York, NY
- Chan, Sewell (7 January 2005). "Want Shots Like This? Get a Permit". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Christophe Agou". In-Public. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- Exhibition notice, Clermont-Ferrand city website.
- "In the Face of Silence". Aesthetica. April 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Christophe Agou wins European Publishers Award". In-Public. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Bram, Richard (18 September 2015). "Christophe Agou, 1969–2015". In-Public. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Bénédicte Philippe, "Christophe Agou: Face au silence", Télérama.
- Victoria Scoffier, "Face au silence, le temps d’un livre", 6 mois, 21 October 2011.
- Press release for Face au Silence (PDF, 27 pp, 432 kB), Clermont-Ferrand city website.
- Exhibition notice, L'Officiel des spectacles.
- "Christophe Agou exposé à Paris", Picto.
- "In-Public@10". Photofusion. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- "74 - Seyssel • Balades photographiques de Seyssel". fr:Compétence photo. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- "Les balades photographiques de Seyssel, du 12 au 23 juillet". fr:La Tribune républicaine de Bellegarde. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- "Street photography now at the Third Floor Gallery", In-Public, 5 October 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "The Sharp Eye. iN-PUBLIC in Mexico: Group Show". Centro de la Imagen. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "Previous Winners". European Publishers Award for Photography. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
- "John Berger: Understanding a Photograph: A panel with Geoff Dyer, Christophe Agou, Wendy Lesser, and Lawrence Weschler", Arts Initiative, Columbia University, 2013. Accessed 8 May 2014.
- Press release (PDF), Actes Sud.
- "Documentaire: Fonds d'aide à l'innovation audiovisuelle (aide à l'écriture): Résultats de la commission du 17 février 2012, CNC.
- "Christophe Agou", Galerie Intervalle.