An instant snapshot of that life without the sun, more than 15 years of reporting on people who make and remake the night in Paris and everywhere Keffer goes. The stars, the unknown, the opportunists, the organizers, the enthusiasts, the dancers, the creators. Some left, others are not even arrived yet, here is the incredible diversity of this world, this universe, that few knows.
Full project on thenightday.com
Get the editions
Watch the Instagram
The night is the subconsious of the day
As a child, I hated going to sleep. I kept saying that I was not sleepy - which was true, I’ve never felt sleepy my whole life -, my parents persisted every night on sending me to bed. What had gotten into them? Why punishing me in such a cruel manner? Convinced that they were hiding something from me, I set my alarm clock to ring at three in the morning, leaped out of my bed and traversed the apartment, shrouded in darkness. Nothing. Silence reigned. But I just needed to get to a living room window to hear some noise and see the shining lights of Paris.
That was the secret. Outside, life went on. Another life, stranger, more mysterious than the one we led during the day and from which children were not witnesses of. I went back to sleep excited. I did not know that I would, much later, turn this into a television show, and that for eight years I would be shooting “Paris Dernière”, but I understood that the world was divided in two categories, the ones that went out at night, and the others who remained at home, and I would be a part of the first category.Today, aged fifty and counting, the night still strikes me as being strange.
Natural, humanity has always been afraid of the dark. It’s to fight against the night that we built our society, with a lot of street lights and policemen. The night has always been this parenthesis where the rules are blurred, where the familiar gives way to the unknown, where Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr Hyde. The night ignores the common law. It is the realm of monsters, lovers, rebels, criminals. It evokes both the evil and perdition, celebration and enchantment.
This is at night that we make love and it is at night that we murder. What attracts us and scares us at night is that it escapes the established order. Hence the distrust in which the authorities keep towards it. In case of problems, the first reflex of any government will always be to declare a curfew. And parents will never lack pretexts to prohibit their children from going out at night. The night is the subconscious of the day.
That’s why she speaks volumes. The Middle-Ages ? No lights. Paris was a real cut-throat. Somehow, we feel our ancestors have left us the impression of indiscriminate violence and obscurantism. The French Revolution? All these young people never slept. They ended up killing each other. The rise of Nazism? There is no historical documentary that shows the Berlin cabarets where the blue angel and the Hitler’s henchmen were engaged in a decisive battle. The night is never as trivial and unimportant as the self-righteous and the white collars would make us believe. Like when I was a child, I still thought that the night was where everything happened.
This is why we must scrutinize the night. I did that just at the turn of the century, between 1998 and 2006, with the first compact digital camera. Others have taken up the torch; Keffer, as one of them, took his first photographs when I had stopped. Here is the result: all our era is here. Later, through the pictures like these we will understand it all. All we were, and everything that will happen to us.
At night, cats are gray, souls are unbridled, the other side becomes king and master in this fucking scenery, the dark side becomes radiant, the grotesque fabulous, perpetual mutations, endlessly sublime...
Night is my playground, my Camelot, my moon, my absolute... I grew up, mutated, learned the night. My first nights at the theater, a baby in a bassinet, dumped in the wings of a small-town theater with the rhythm of a rampaging Batucada as my sole benchmark.
Night as a teenage girl, a worker, in the loneliness of road shows.
Night and its sad animals, the feathers, the glitter, the playful and wistful actors, the night like my chrysalis, the night gave me the freedom to create that I longed for so much, that I knew I deserved, that I felt around the corner of my street.
Night as a creed, our nights at the Manko, sparkling and decadent temple of this irreverent fauna, a new breed of cabaret with impertinence and freedom, absolute and unfettered, at its heart.
Night and its screwball satyrs, its mingling bodies, the sweat exchanged like a promise of fellowship.
Night that stages itself at the bend of a corridor, with a clownish face, tender, strangely beautiful; the epitome of life, of this passion to live.
Night lazily giving way to day, this day that we only see too much of, this arrogant day, this little brat and its joggers, this time-consuming normalcy.
Night of the fake friends who shove the real ones, night of the infamous «anything goes», it’s this multifaceted night that Keffer gives us away, this resilient night, the one that will never give up and of which this new instalment is the sulphurous testimony.
« At night, all sorrows are grayed »
You cannot define the night. There is no right or wrong definition to it. As there are as many definitions as there are night owls. This ineffable atmosphere fascinates people, and it fascinates me.
At 14, my first night flight was a failed baptism. In the grim light of posh clubs of western Paris, i was disappointed by the sight of this crowd of withe-collar uniforms swaying their hips to the beat of bad hits. I couldn’t believe that the Parisian night was all about putting on a suit shirt and dress shoes and drinking champagne.
So I kept on searching. But unlike a police investigation, i did not follow the money. I followed music, the language of the emotions, according to Kant.
To me, the night must fill my desires and not my emptiness. I reject those nights that allow me to forget my days. Night must be delightful and uncalled-for. This sweet treat must add an extra layer to life.
My second attempt took place at the Institubes party inside the Elysee Montmartre. It was a revelation. At last i had found it. Everything i was looking for was there, in front of me. And i was part of it. Music was so good ... I had never heard such a sound, played so loud. All the people there seemed so free. What a discovery. After that night, the party really began. I went to the We love art, Dimushi, Coco Beach, Sundae parties and the mornings at Twisted.
At night, music becomes electric. It’s much more emotional. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. I like this energy. It’s an energy that sublimates people through dance, and awakens a little fire in each of us.
To me, night isn’t necessarily a party, but rather a spontaneous moment of life, of togetherness. There are suns, lost stars, black stars and haute-couture fairies. These are some of the many captivating encounters that you can make at night. To my greatest delight, these nocturnal beings appears only at sunset. The night welcomes everyone.
The night has its own rules, its own rites. Everything is different. Night is a unique moment in time, that is fed by these ephemeral encounters that we think will be eternal. The people who share these moments with you will enter in your life, for one night.
Keffer makes good use of these forgotten moments of nocturnal life. His lens is everywhere, whether it is in a corner, the reflection of a mirror, in front of a barrier, above a door, in a DJ booth, or backstage. Keffer pays tribute - once again - to the Parisian nocturnal fauna.
The night howls its obscene dreams that, drop by drop, immolate our bodies.Corrosive, we wake up at last: we are the Devotees whose slack-jawed mouths swallow the breasts of an ecstatic moon. Ready for the sweet carnage.
Sacro-Saints, red shards of light on our faces. Ravenous, we roam the noise of the basements, sacred hangars, dust of the streets in search of the Grail. In our pockets, the host that will make us love.
(Our hearts beat between our legs)
Naked angels with macabre dances, our disjointed bodies dragging rage and drunkenness. Our skins bear the weight of shattered sleep. Fatigue no longer exists. Under the false lashes, a weary depth. Ravers, dreamers, Still standing.
Net-stockinged legs, armored, navel and loins untied.
The heat of the endless eclipses floods our chests, runs down our spines. A panoply of lights that blinds and soothes us. How beautiful you are under the orange foam that gleams on your skin!
Mechanical, like machines, Always in motion. We ceaselessly cross the naked and black belly of the night. Lined by the drumming; by the fierce rhythms that surge over our chest cages. Hearts beating so hard our chests have trouble holding them in. animal breath.
Our panting devours the silence. Tightrope walkers, ready to fall off this wire. But the idea of the fall is pleasant. Staccato, we let ourselves be shaken by the 130, 140, 150 bpm spat out by gleaming turntables.
And the earth trembles. Kicks, New Rocks and Docs, we manage to move forward and hang on.
This is for you: dancers, pick-up artists, smokers, You, beginners, regulars, You, After seekers, You, who kiss, who fuck, You, who don’t dare, You, the shadows, You who forget the day, You, who don’t want to die in this world, For such are the nights that rock us.