Ed Alcock

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Hobbledehoy

Hobbledehoy, by Ed Alcock with an original text by Emmanuel Carrère

published by Editions Terre Bleue (2013)

The photographs of Ed Alcock, and the accompanying short-story by Emmanuel Carrère capture the intimacy between a mother and her young son.

« He was neither man nor boy, he was but a hobbledehoy ». Ed Alcock’s father used this Old English rhyme to refer to the intermediate state through which boy children pass shortly after their tenth year.

Three periods, two summers, one year apart, and in the frame, Ed Alcock’s son, Nino, alone or with his mother. The first and last of these periods are solar, mineral. The other is wet and of a burgeoning green. Whatever the decor, these two characters appear to be as alone as on the first morning of the world, caught in a bubble of essential intimacy and an obvious physical proximity. Their love shines in this counted time, before the distancing of adolescence, when the mother still has access to the « virginal » body of a son, who may still lie full length, against her naked body. But in the heat and abandon of peaceful holiday idleness, a slow, silent, irreversible metamorphosis is at work. "Children are like the years," said Céline, "we never see them again".

Looking through the pictures in Hobbledehoy, the writer, Emmanuel Carrère is reminded of a story from his own life: a "rotten holiday " in a rented house in the Alpilles. In a "locked room", where the owner of the house had stocked his private affairs, the idle writer discovers a "large box of photographs". Images of a young man, a young woman and two little girls. All four of them never photographed together. A beautiful family. "Such a manifesto of happiness calls for the presence of a witness," justifies Carrère. 

A witness is exactly the position in which the photographer finds himself. A familiar voyeur, without trespass. He steals nothing other than time, suspended and rare, that will never return.

Veronique Rossignol for Livres Hebdo

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Hobbledehoy

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