EST. 2009

September 14, 2011

Those Precarious Moments

INSTANTS FRAGILE IS THE FRENCH TITLE that Precarious Moments translates from. Why photographer Jean-Louis Blondeau had entitled the series as such aims to capture the fragile nature of his adventures and experiences with wire-walking friend Philippe Petit.

Fragility was what made those moments so thrilling: A juggler appearing out of nowhere. A wire-walker materializing in the sky. Spectacles amidst the everyday, transforming the streets into a theatre of sorts, though only for a moment. Fragility is also what characterizes Philippe and Jean-Louis' friendship: once cemented by dreams and passion, now finding itself more vulnerable, more frail.

I've had the privilege of corresponding with Mr. Blondeau after requesting permission to use his photos. It was in these exchanges that I got a more poignant sense of the wire-walking experience he shared with the high-wire artist; an experience spanning years of youthful adventure and discovery, relying solely on what good fortune held, what good company provided and constantly keeping "an eagle eye out for the police."

Mr. Blondeau regards those early days, those precarious moments, as the very thing that captured the spirit of their adventure, driven only by the wonder of delighting an audience and the unconditional joy it brings. Those days before the fame, fortune and worldwide acclaim, the photographer asserts, brought to life feats that challenged the limits of the human body, heart and mind.

Such a challenge it was that it could not succeed in every facet of its undertaking. While the 1974 World Trade Center high-wire walk carried out by the duo resulted in a triumph of historical scale, its 2008 retrospective Man on Wire caused a brittleness in their friendship. What Mr. Blondeau believed to be fabrications in storytelling, as well as an overall sensationalizing of the event, brought about a new and unexpected discord between two old friends.

In spite of it all, Mr. Blondeau holds his friendship with Philippe in high regard. He considers it to be the cement that made their story, their success, possible. In the photographer's own words:
The beauty of our adventures is in their innocence. There was no money, no egomania neither eager for fame involved. We were only animated by our dreams without any other thoughts than making these dreams hapen. Audacity, determination, friendship and unconditional passion for what we loved were our motivations.

The beautiful memories I keep from that time and our joy when we succeeded helped me go through life without giving up each time I have been confronted by difficult situations. Being in my sixties now, I know it is more rewarding to live for what you believe in than running after fame or money.
Philippe Petit in Paris and New York. From Precarious Moments photography by Jean-Louis Blondeau, Photos copyright Jean-Louis Blondeau - not free for use.