Global warming, the collapse of biodiversity, the multiplication of conflicts, pandemics… our planet is in bad shape. To help us face the challenges of the present and the future, the first people, the true champions of survival in a hostile environment, according to Maurice Rebeix, are the best place to accompany and guide us.
“They have survived for thousands of years, obviously this photographer. It’s time to listen to what they have to say and inspire us with the way they are in the world. » An idea the 68-year-old man defended in an essay, Wild Spirit (1).
Travel life, experiences and encounters
This magnificent work, documented, debated, and passionately, is the culmination of a lifetime of travels, experiences, and encounters of all kinds. Maurice Rebeix was born in Paris in the year 14and arrondissement in 1954. He grew up between Paris and Corrèze, where his family came from. “We used to spend all our holidays there. she says. My childhood was a series of journeys and transfers according to my father’s duties who had many professional adventures. »
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His life is also a series of encounters. Especially with Jean-Paul Janssen, his parents’ neighbor, former reporter for the Five Column program on the front page. “A charismatic man, crowned with war reporter status. One day, in the 1970’s, I dared to approach him. He took me under his wing and introduced me to the picture. I started at the bottom of the ladder as a grouillot, then I became assistant editor, editor, assistant director, then director… Thanks to him, I met rock climbing and mountaineer Patrick Edlinger who has traveled with me all over the world. »
Maurice Rebeix works with Jean-Paul Janssen on the anthology documentary vertical operafilmed with Edlinger in Gorges du Verdon.
Archie Fire Lame Deer, Lakota Sioux
If editing and directing brought him into contact with the likes of Orson Welles or Marcel Carné, photography took precedence over anything else. With a Leica around his neck, he travels the world with a passion for the Caribbean and North America. In 1981, during a long stay in Quebec, he got acquainted with the Indian world where he had devoted his passion since his childhood in Corrèze. “When I met Innu in the north of the Province, I really liked him. I found a crazy class in these very poor people with great humour. »
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In 1993, his attention crystallized on the Lakota Sioux. Interest related to meeting months earlier in France with Archie Fire Lame Deer, Sioux Lakota and former Hollywood stuntman turned shaman and lecturer, author holy circle (Albin Michel). This character and his entire family played a key role in his career. From there, Maurice Rebeix doubled round trips to the Pine Ridge reserve and specifically Rosebud, in South Dakota.
In 1999, he participated in his first sun dance. This ceremony, long banned, is one of the most secretive and most important of the Indians of the plains. White people were generally excluded. To him, it was a revelation. Trying it physically, as it involved the sacrifice of self-mutilation, would be for him, for twenty years, the occasion of an annual meeting with Indian friends and acquaintances.
His job as a sun dancer
“I came to take pictures and they took me, observed Maurice Rebeix quietly. There’s an impressive culture, the sign. The Lakota people and more broadly that the first people really touched me. I guess it has to do with the fact that they remind us of who we used to be. In the way they continue to belong to the world, their relationship with the elements of fire, earth, wind, by pouring a little water on the ground to simply say thank you to life. »
Her life is now punctuated by their rituals and an understanding of the world she tries to share in different ways. Through his book but also during conferences. He regularly intervenes in the company, in prison or at school… to share the gifts he has been given and thereby fulfill his duties as a sun dancer.
Maurice Rebeix denies another world. He only notes that certain beliefs long denounced or ridiculed by so-called barbarians are now scientifically recognized. “A few years ago, she smiles, who dares to say, as some of these people have taught us from time immemorial, that trees communicate with one another? »
Inspiration: Indian memory “, the book that changed my life
“This is the book that made me into the man I am today. In 1987, while reporting in Colorado, I stopped at a bookstore in Boulder. When I returned, my gaze seemed to be caught by the face of an Indian on the cover of a book that was placed among the others on the table. I bought it, read it and reread it. He made me happy and changed my life.
A few years later, in 1993, I would meet the author’s son, John Fire Lame Deer, then his grandson and great-grandson. This book, Indian memory, awakened my childhood dream. It also made me a reader and made me want to discover their ceremony and write. »