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“One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces”. Thirteenth episode. Marc Flament: the Algerian War at the heart of military operations

Born in Bordeaux in 1929, Marc Flament enlisted in the army at the age of eighteen and joined the colonial parachutists in French Indochina until 1956. During these years, he produced many cartoons tor the Caravelle newspaper.

Un marin muni d'un appareil photographique observe la ville de Lagouat, aux portes du désert saharien, Algérie, 1960 © ECPAD / Marc Flament

Opération "Youks" dans les Nementchas, à proximité de Youks-les-bains. Conduite par le 3e RPC, elle vise à intercepter les combattants rebelles qui passent la frantière tunisienne dans le secteur de Tébessa, Algérie, février 1958 © ECPAD / Marc FlamentHe reenlisted in Algeria in 1956, and was mistakenly allocated to the 10th parachute division in Algiers as a photographer, though he had no experience in this field. Photography became a passion which perfectly matched his strong taste for action and adventure: appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel Bigeard’s official photographer in 1957, he took part in all the parachutists’ and commando groups’ operations. He produced over 30,000 images of the conflict until 1961, depicting the men of the 3rd Colonial Parachute Regiment (RPC), often from a heroic, aestheticised viewpoint.
His images, produced outside the scope of the 5e Bureau intelligence and propaganda unit, escaped the filter of institutional censorship.
Widely used and circulated locally, they sometimes reflect the toughness of the arrests, searches and conflict.
His work is marked by both original formal research and a striking Enfants d'Aïn-Sefra, Algérie, 1960 © ECPAD / Marc Flamentempathy with his subjects. He produced in turn many touching portraits of children and images that sublimate the suffering and helplessness of the parachutists: the photograph of the death of the young Jacques Schneidenbach has similarities with certain representations of the Lamentation of Christ.

Bataille de Timimoun : mortellement blessé au combat, le jeune parachutiste Jacques Schneidenbach, âgé de vingt ans est entouré par ses camarades du  RPC, Hassi-Rhambou, Algérie, 21 novembre 1957 © ECPAD / Marc Flament

Photos credits : © ECPAD / Marc Flament

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