‘Work in Progress’ by Pierre-Yves Brunaud

The ‘Work in Progress’ series from French photographer Pierre-Yves Brunaud is an unusual project: no mess, piling up building materials, heaps of rubbish, concrete bars, tools, cohorts of workers who moves in a strange choreography … But applied workers who scrupulously follow the lines drawn on the plan, the marks on a wall and all the levels. This is the reverse operation of “cut along the dotted line”, there must be adjusted according to the instructions, no improvisation, the whole rigor and strength depends on it!

The worker’s gaze accompanies his gesture, dictates his movement, no hesitation, no trembling or lack of attention. Accuracy. The construction is based on calculations. Pierre-Yves Brunaud precisely frames these almost perfect tasks. Each photograph expresses the meticulous aspect of a work that one imagines rather realized with the ladle. Suddenly, the gaze is fixed on the pantomimes performed without agitation in calm figures, even though the materials are hard, offensive, rough and that men seem powerful, but in restraint, on the alert. Everything is done smoothly. Hence this light that reinforces this feeling. Whence these colors that calm the game, make it silent while accompanying the controlled tension emanating from the worker.


Do the architect, the surveyor, the team leader, know that these features produce this effect? Do they remember that, in the vocabulary of architecture, the landmark – which comes from “lair” – is a mark affixed to the stones to facilitate their assembly? It is also a feature on a partition that indicates the location of a closet, a sink or the passage of a sheath. These markers are intended to locate, that is to say to find themselves in the skein of threads inscribed on the walls. They constitute a kind of language, which only insiders decipher. Perhaps the cohesion of a construction site calls for this to speak in signs? For the neophyte, the worker has the compass in the eye, fruit of his accumulated experiences of construction site and the construction appears to him to be only a simple game, having its own logic …


To see these photographs and to compare them to the other images of building sites which assail us, one says that the qualified work has not disappeared and that beside repetitive actions, without too many requirements that maneuvers can carry out indifferently , the construction site still has trades, with know-how, apprenticeship, continuous training and hope it’s a real pleasure that rewards every professional for his relentlessness. It is this love of art that photography can not grasp. It belongs to the domain of the invisible. Compliment a worker, he will remain silent, will move on. It’s his modesty. Some traces on a layer, some marks on a concrete just removed …

Translated from French writer Thierry Paquot