"He was not friendly," recalled the Montreal-based photographer. "I was acting annoyed, then I started to blame and it's been 45 minutes that I get angry."
Thanks to the Spanish translation of Antaki's friend, Antonio managed to make it clear that his family had been making religious figurines in Mexico for 12 generations but that, as he had not been able apprentice, tradition would die with him. In addition, the Catholic Church was cheaper than that of China rather than that of local artisans like him. Nobody appreciated his skills, do not deplore Antonio, not his family, nor the Catholic Church, and certainly not the amazed tourists, such as Antaki, who came to take a picture and disappeared without making a purchase.
Antaki assured Antonio that he was not an ordinary tourist. He was a professional photographer engaged in an epic and multi-year project to photograph small traders from around the world. "I told him that was the reason I was doing this series to pay tribute to people like him," Antaki said. "And he said" OK, you can take a picture. " In the photo, Antonio stands in the center of his studio in a painted dress, splattered with paint, surrounded by his creations, including a statue of Christ standing on his left. shoulder, seeming to bless the sculptor.
Antonio is one of the more than 250 traders photographed by Antaki over the past seven years: a shoe shine in Paris, a New York record seller, a mechanic in Beirut, a haberdashery shop in Montreal, a repairman from gramophones in Istanbul. Antaki sees these stores as walls of individuality and diversity in a world increasingly dominated by international retail chains. "The reality of today 's world is that we are afraid," he said. "When you go to a new city, you want to feel safe to go to McDonald's or Starbucks." It's a way to homogenize the world so people do not have to leave their comfort zone. "
Antaki calls the wineries, shops and workshops captured in his photographs "urban temples". "These are the places where people literally spend their lives," I explained. "Some exist for 50 years, 60 years." I think these places have something sacred. "The name of the series of photographs, The gardians, reflects this sacred aura.
After photographing Antonio, Antaki promised that he would come back the next day with an impression. At this point, the embittered sculptor simply accepted the photograph without calling Antaki. But after leaving the studio, Antaki took a position allowing him to observe Antonio without being observed. "I looked at the picture and smiled," Antaki remembered. "It was a great moment."