Petite Planète n°22 SAHARA | Chris Marker - Éditions du Seul
Chris Marker travelled extensively throughout his life and in his younger years utilised travel assignments as a journalist to experiment with modest film projects. A camera always accompanied him and he was a prolific photographer. In 1954 the 33 year old filmmaker had been hired as an editor by Parisian publishing house Editions de Seuil, known for its radical titles, including Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and Frantz Fanon’s doctorial thesis Black Skin, White Masks. At Seuil, Marker was given free rein, devising and directing a collection of 31 travel books with the title Petite Planète. His aspiration for the series was to avoid the propaganda familiar to the guidebook genre, imagining instead the intimacy of his film script style, or a ‘conversation with an individual who is well informed about the country in question’.
Petite Planète, whose titles broadly span Japan, Tahiti, Yugoslavia and Ireland, would be characterised by their striking covers, using a photograph of a woman to represent each country. Every volume is richly populated with photographs from Marker’s travels and personal archives, together with those of his friends and colleagues, including Agnes Varda, William Klein and Henri Cartier Bresson.
Marker’s cinematographic eye focused attentively on book design and layout, creating dynamic relationships between images, with photographs of street life and people at work given equal attention to those of eminent historical figures. This surprising use of imagery and montage brought a sense of movement and momentum to the book form that Marker would eventually employ as a simple way to orchestrate a film. His best-known work, La Jetée, is composed almost entirely from still images.
Chris Marker's editions of Petite Planète feel potent in a very particular way. When first published, they would have opened up a whole new approach to travel for their readers. Now, having travelled themselves since the date of publication—through space, time, and multiple ownerships—they carry an invisible yet tangible residue of our innate curiosity and appetite for adventure.
Editions de Seuil would continue to publish Petite Planète until 1981, eventually running to over 60 titles and numerous reprints
-description by Tamsin Clark (ICA London)
Petit Planete no°22 SAHARA by François Vergnaud
directed by Juliette Caputo
12x 18 cm, French
cover image by Henry Brandt
printed in France, 1959
Second Hand book - Please note that second hand items are not new and therefore might have minor imperfections.