A biographical note
Jérôme Thirriot could well be called a man of light. Light has been a consistent preoccupation throughout his life, from his earliest childhood to the present.
He is a poet, photographer, film professional and more recently as a world traveler with a special devotion to India.
Born in Paris in 1955 he was born to a family that had been involved in film and movie theatres for generations.
His great-grandfather, Ferdinand Jean, had been a man of theatres and a pioneer in the film world who became acquainted with the renowned brothers Lumière (whose family name means “light”), Auguste-Nicolas (1862- 1954) and Louis-Jean (1864-1948), the inventors of cinema.
He studied in Neuilly-sur-Seine and Nanterre, lived in Charleville-Mézières and first came to India in 1977.
As a boy, he had often had mysterious recurrent dreams about strange, exotic, bearded figures in turbans like headgear. These seemed to incarnate an essential kind of wisdom, always in a luminous and distinctive setting which he was not able to place.
On an impulsive one-way trip to Delhi, the youthful Jérôme met and fell under the spell of a captivating young Hindu dancer. She lost no time in informing him that his destiny was “waiting” for him in Kashmir – just like that! There was something oracular in her tone and something sublime. Jérôme did not hesitate. He left immediately for Kashmir and soon after he arrived in Benares with his urge to study music. He “recognized” the landscape of his childhood dreams! There it was, at last. Quite soon he found himself assiduously studying Hindu classical music under the guidance of the distinguished tabla player, Sri Chhote Lal Misra.
On subsequent visits to India, it was not only his passion for Hindu music that drove him but also an earlier interest in photography.
Why indeed is it that Jérôme and Annie, his muse, seem to be “called” again and again to Benares?
Benares is said to be the oldest living city as Mark Twain called it “twice as old as tradition”!
Jérôme himself says he loves it because it seems to him to be the continuation of a life-long waking dream.
Benares is seen to be a mystical rose born of the light of the sun and the waters of Ganges.
Each morning, numberless devotees descend to the banks of the Ganges to wash away their sins, to adore the life-giving light of the sun – but also to die and be cremated!
Jérôme is struck by the enigmatic daily encounter here between life and death, between time and eternity, between darkness and light.
Jérôme Thirriot seeks to capture in both the faces and inert objects which he photographs in Benares.
With him, one is almost tempted to consider it a quasi-mystical calling.
It came as no surprise to Jérôme the Dream-Beckoned when he learned that Benares was formerly called KASHI, a name which means “shining with divine Light”.
based on Bertrand MATHIEU, Charleville-Mézières, August 24, 2006.