The Circle belongs to my current work, Essence of the Blues. Essence of the Blues will be showed at the Cahors Blues Festival in July, during a month. ©Beatrice Chauvin


What is your favorite museum for photography?

When a place proposes me to discover a photographer or to review an artist, it connects directly with my passion for photography and becomes my favorite museum or gallery of the moment. Still, some places are intensely part of myself and rooted; for instance le Musée du Jeu de Paume where I was able to approach in total awe, Richard Avedon, Sally Mann, Sophie Ristelhueber, Dorothea Lange and many other great creators. Also, when I visualize my memories, I realize that my first emotion occurred in Sainte Colombe, a tiny rural village in Burgundy, France. That was in the late seventies, Rajak Ohanian a photographer from Armenian origins, settled in Sainte Colombe during two years, taking full-length black and white portraits of the people in front of their house or at work. The exhibition « 44 Bourguignons dans leur vie telle quelle est » (44 Burgundians in Their Everyday Life) lasted six months: big prints (70,8×47,2 inch) graced the walls of the old shut down school and of some medieval farms. The village became a living museum dedicated to the photographer’s work, achieved in unison with the people of Sainte Colombe.


What helped you get through the pandemic?

I could not have gotten through the pandemics without my family’s loving presence, my circle of close friends in France, USA, Canada, and my work on my Mississippi Stories series. From this wave of love, either given by my family or my close friends, my energy could rise and move around even though all looked so stiff, cruel, motionless and hopeless. As for my work, I had many interviews in store, gathered all along these years of travels in Mississippi and I never really had taken the time to work on them. With the pandemics, some jobs slowed down, so in May 2020 I started to listen to my interviews and organize articles for a series called MISSISSIPPI STORIES published in the French Blues Magazine. I began the series with William Ferris, then Maude Schuyler, Willy Bearden, Charles McLaurin, Bronson Tew and Jimbo Mathus. I finished all in October 2021. While listening to these voices and to the stories they were offering me, while entering the lives of such personalities and getting so close to them — I was seized and obsessed by the sentences  written down and moved by the feeling that I was touching a truth linked to the story of the Deep South. That was exactly what I had always wanted to reach over these years of travels (and I had succeeded) but this time it was going even further and deeper. When work fuses and then infuses you with so much grace, depth, clarity and emotion, you have the feeling you are unfolding an other dimension of yourself.


What was the best book you read/viewed last year?

The language of books is our everyday music. They become sacred objects, milestones, or friends,  as soon as they push us to break old molds. They help us open what needs to be unlocked and naturally revealed in our lives and through our Art. I have six major books I can always rely on: THE PHOTOGRAPHS of MARION POST WOLCOTTOVER THE LINE, the Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence— FAIT by Sophie Ristelhueber— OPERATIONS by Sophie Ristelhueber— BLACK DOLLS Deborah Neff ’s collection, the catalogue of the exhibition in Paris. My sixth and « last year book » appears to be L’ÂME DES SONS (The Spirit of Sounds: The Unique Art of Ostad Elahi) by Jean During a French musician and ethnomusicologist specializing in music from the nations of the East especially Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. The essence and spirit of a photograph can carry through its transparency invisible layers, the seen and unseen, the visible and invisible, the shadows and lights, the hidden and unveiled. I found in the Spirit of Sounds the same feeling and language and this allowed me to reach some unique realms.


What are your favorite instagram feeds?

My main feeds on Instagram are friends so I will choose three friends who symbolize three artistic expressions reflected in my work: music, photography and fabrics. Jimbo Mathus is a Blues musician and artist always on the go. He is very committed to the state of Mississippi where he lives: he takes part into many different events to help people through the Arts. He produces Bluesmen and Blues women, tours all over the world, he paints, makes collages, makes films, plays many instruments, creates new albums every year etc.… He is a man who knows how to talk about the South with the depth of his heart and soul. When I met him ten years ago, I interviewed him and we became friends. 

Magic Thinking is a Saori weaver based in Tokyo but I met her in Paris! I love to follow her creations, because each time it is like being on a beautiful journey. Her connection with threads, colors and the right moment for weaving mesmerizes me. Magic Thinking is a wonderful woman and we love to share our passion for fabrics, dyes and all kind of beauties.  That’s what she says on her Instagram: « I weave with my heart, I take time to let the yarns speak and do their thing. Coincidences are all part of the work. » 

I was attracted by Mark Clifton’s photographs and especially by the force  of his images all bathed in a black and white intense atmosphere. After having exchanged messages with him I discovered that he was from Mound Bayou a historical small town of the Mississippi Delta. During my last trip in The South, we met at the library of Cleveland, Mississippi and chatted like old friends. It was just magical. Mark and I are friends, I admire the way he goes inside photography and writing. I think his work should be showed on big walls and in famous galleries.


What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Take time in your hands, sit it by your side and make it flexible. You are already using it with your long exposures shots or 1/250 sec speed shots, freezing moments everyday. Still, be conscious that time is a living substance capable to distort, expand and blow open some of your days. You are the one to decide how you will face its force and you’ll see that it is worth it. If you do so, your vision will always feel the horizon of seconds, minutes, hours, days, years like an endless present keeping your spirit young, alive and full of imagination.

I am French and live in Paris, I am a photographer and a writer. I used to live in Maryland when I was a child. During these essential years I absorbed some parts of the American culture, bound to Black History and to the Blues. It never left me. The introduction of my website is my bio:


Béatrice Chauvin

97 rue de Belleville

75019 Paris France

00 33 6 15 12 64 33

Autoportrait belongs to my series The Silver Line published in South x Southeast Photomagazine in December 2021.