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‘Black River’, ‘Great River’, and even ‘Black Dragon River’: the Amur is known by many names in both Russian and Chinese. In the French photographer’s native tongue, the 2,824-kilometre-long stream – which separates Russia and China before flowing into the North Pacific – is called something even more evocative: Amour. And indeed, Doury has developed a deep love for the river and everything it represents. So it is unsurprising that her new book seems like a love letter to the monumental stream, the regions it traverses, and the people whose lives it has shaped.
In the past three decades, Doury repeatedly travelled to Siberia to journey along the banks of the Amur. Her work instantly gained recognition: in 1999, she received the Leica Oskar Barnack Award for her black and white series, ‘Peuples de Sibérie’. Her early explorations were primarily focused on the culture and traditions of the region’s nomadic tribes. However, rather than adhering to a classic documentary style, she decided to take a more lyrical approach to capturing everyday life in an extremely harsh and inhospitable environment.
A selection of these early images is now featured in this volume – creating a cross-generational link to the region’s present-day inhabitants, who Doury portrayed just two years ago. At the same time, they also symbolise the personal journey of the artist, who describes her new book as “the end of a cycle”: her first trip to Russia was prompted by the life-changing decision to give up her career as a picture editor, in order to concentrate fully on her own photography. “It was the perfect time for me to visit this border. It was like venturing to another planet.”

This publication combines Doury’s images from 1991 to 1997 with photographs she captured in 2018 – though the presentation follows no chronological order, and is devoid of any captions or explanatory text. “I wanted to go back for introspective reasons, but also to find the same people and to see what had changed there,” the photographer reveals.
Colour plays an important role in Doury’s more recent works; however, rather than standing in contrast to her earlier, black and white images, her colour photographs simply serve as yet another facet of poetic visual expression. Distinguished by soft tones and, at times, mysterious scenes, ‘Amour’ is a testament to Doury’s gift as a keen observer and sensitive narrator – whereby the concept of memories and transformation remains a pervading theme. The exquisite book design perfectly complements the sequence of the showcased photographs, which is interspersed with just a few historical archive images.
‘Amour’ is more than a declaration of love; it also encapsulates the feeling of being rooted in a world that was once strange and unfamiliar, but has long since become an indispensable part of the artist’s personal and creative journey. (Ulrich Rüter)

Claudine Doury: Amour
104 pages, 70 colour and b/w illustrations, 19 x 25 cm
French/English, Chose Commune

All pictures on this page: © Cloudine Doury
Le Papillon bleu, Nergen, 2018
Les Grandes Eaux, Khabarovsk, 2018
Cristina, Nergen,1997
Le Meteor, Komsomolsk-sur-l'Amour, 2018
Le Tambour oultche, Boulava, 1997
© Claudine Doury, Courtesy In Camera / Chose Commune

Claudine Doury

Claudine Doury was born in 1959 in Blois, near Orleáns. After studying journalism, she worked as a picture editor before dedicating herself entirely to her work as a photographer. She has received multiple awards, including the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, the World Press Photo Award (2000) and the Prix Niépce (2004). Doury has been a member of the VU agency since 1991, and is represented by the In Camera gallery in Paris. Her first publication, ‘Peuples de Sibérie’ (1999) was followed by numerous subsequent photo books. Claudine Doury lives and works in Paris.

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