Jerome De Perlinghi / USA

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The best - and perhaps the only - way to get to know a city is to explore it on foot. To roam about, measure its space and make it your own to the beat of your footsteps. And the walker, lest he might stumble or not find his way, must look far ahead as much as right in front of him. This double distance with regards to things makes the basis of his world view, which is remade as he wanders.

Jérôme de Perlinghi, an impenitent walker but also a photographer, knows all this. And he walks daily, while taking photographs or not. He knows that this is how he can best take in a city, a theme to which he has dedicated numerous images and books over the years, in Asia as well as in the USA. He reiterates, with an approach to his city, Wilson, North Carolina, where he moved in 2011 on his 50th birthday.

It was as he walked that he had met the inhabitants of Wilson, his new neighbours, and that he had photographed them, between 2011 and 2014 for a set of portraits that later became a sort of random family album, following encounters and affinities. All age and social groups, all genders, all ethnicities had posed for him in front of the same neutral but textured backdrop that brought out the diversity of this city's population, which had enjoyed great prosperity from the 1930s to the 1960s during the golden era of tobacco. Today, it is still while walking that he makes the portrait not of the inhabitants but of the city. As if he had only kept the backdrop and sent home those he had already immortalised.

He does so, since 2015, in black and white, in square format, with a nod to the classicism implied by this approach that favours balance, solid compositions that he counterpoises with great freedom, finding in diagonals a sort of dynamism. Black and white enables him to get to the heart of the matter, to avoid any garish temptation that colour could bring and not give in to shallow anecdotes. This modality of abstraction always raises questions of substance, the deeper strata. Being fully aware that there is nothing objective about his portrait of Wilson since it is deeply photographic, Jérôme de Perlinghi shoots to his heart's content.

Taking his time, in all seasons, in full sun as it casts strong shadows, or when snow reveals things that would otherwise go unnoticed, day or night, always paying attention to the light and the way it alters objects, space and perspectives, the photographer freely enjoys discovering, encountering surprises that make him release the shutter. The city is empty of inhabitants, yet it is full of a human presence. Details, objects, signs that are manifestations of mankind like a series of reflections, of images within the image that quietly inhabit the city.

By opting for clear parameters - no living people - and adopting a simple methodology - discovering the city by broadening the concentric circles that go from his house in the centre to the outskirts, Jérôme de Perlinghi does not suggest an analysis of the urban structure but a stroll, one that mirrors his and points to significant elements, however trivial they may appear, of what makes the real urban fabric of his city. Each picture, in its own way, is a short and implicit story that we are free to interprete, more a poetic evocation than a piece of information, but one that stems from a reality that has become familiar and that we share.

A photographing walker and a walking photographer, Jérôme de Perlinghi gives us a lesson in life philosophy, as he applies the writings of David Le Breton, the author of Praise of Walking: "To take one's time is a subversion of the everyday.Anachronic in a world that favours speed, walking is an act of resistance that celebrates slowness, availability, silence, curiosity and the pointless - those many qualities that counter the neoliberal values that condition our lives.The walker is the one who takes his time and does not allow time to take him". He adds: "Walk is not about gaining time, but about taking it with elegance". In this sense, he is not far from the millennial Chinese proverb: "It is not the aim of the walk that matters, but the small steps that lead to it". And we may conclude quoting the late Georges Wolinski: "A man who does not walk leaves no trace". Jérôme de Perlinghi, for his part, does. Indubitably.

Christian Caujolle

Jerome De Perlinghi

Professional Experience

  • Started working as a freelance photographer in 1989 for the French daily Libération in Paris, followed by assignments for The Washington Post, Télérama, La Recherche, Elle, The New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Le Monde, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other recognized international newspapers and magazines.
  • Joined the French branch of the Outline/Corbis photo agency in Paris in the fall of 2002, now Getty Image.
  • Taught photojournalism for many years at Loyola University Chicago, for the School of Communication, and ran photographic workshops and classes around street photography and portraiture for the Photography Department of Columbia College Chicago.
  • Currently teaching and running both portrait and street photography workshops in different countries, most recently in Pingyao, China, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Founder, artistic director and principal organizer of the "International Photography Festival Eyes on Main Street" in Wilson, NC, USA. ( The 8th edition will launch on October 22, 2022.

Published books

  • "Liebe Zu Kaufen", Stemmle Edition, Switzerland 1987
  • "DeSingel", ed. DeSingel, Antwerp, Belgium 1990
  • "Album 5", ed. Octobre en Normandie, Rouen, France 1991
  • "Cinéphiles/Cinefielen", ed. Film Museum, Brussels, Belgium 1993
  • "Working It Out"; Documentaire Foto-opdrachten Vlaanderen, ed. Vrienden van de Provinciale Musea Antwerpen, Belgium 1996
  • "Kaaitheater 1977-1997", ed. Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium 1997
  • "Shanghai", the Pearl of the East, 1985-2000, ed. Catleya, Paris, France 2000
  • "Memphis" A Crossroads of Music, ed. Le Chêne, Paris, France 2005
  • "Shanghai, Nevernight City (1985-2020)", ed. Husson Editeur, Brussels, Belgium 2020
  • "Chicago, A Tale of Two Cities" (2011-2018), ed. Wide Angle Press, Wilson, NC, USA 2021
  • "Wilson in Squares"" (2015-2021), ed. Wide Angle Press, Wilson, NC

Photographs in collections

  • FOMU, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Brussels, Belgium
  • Ministère de la Communauté Française, Brussels, Belgium
  • Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium
  • Prentenkabinet, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
  • National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom
  • Royal Photographic Society, Bath, United Kingdom
  • The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland
  • Schweizerische Stiftung Fur Die Photographie, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
  • Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
  • National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, USA
  • North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC, USA


  • 1983 Gallery "Ex", Brussels, Belgium
  • 1984 "Regards Noirs", Gallery Totem, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1987 "Le Musée du Cinéma", Gallery Contretype, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1988 "Shanghai", Gallery Portfolio, London, UK
  • 1989 "Shanghai", Gallery Tartessos, Barcelona, Spain
  • 1989 "Shanghai", Gallery Canon Image Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 1990 "Shanghai", Gallery Kijkhuis, Den Haag, The Netherlands
  • 1993 "Central Asia", DeSingel, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • 1994 "Central Asia", Oud Sint Jan, Brugge, Belgium
  • 1996 "Working It Out", FOMU, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • 1998 "Kaaitheater 1977-1997", Luna Theater, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1998 "Brussels", KVS Theater, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1999 "Blues For Company", Gallery Périscope, Liège, Belgium
  • 2005 "Portraits of Stars", Montreal Film Festival, Montreal, Canada
  • 2006 "Portraits d'artistes", Cultural Center Evere, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2007 "Portraits d'artistes", Transphotographiques, Lille, France
  • 2007 "Portraits of Stars", Montreal Film Festival, Montreal, Canada
  • 2008 "Movie Stars", Fireking Café, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2008 "Jerome De Perlinghi: Cinémathèque", Galerie du Bon Marché, Paris, France
  • 2009 "Portraits of Musicians and Conductors", Museum Gebouw aan t'IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2012 "Portraits of Stars", Wilson Arts Center", Wilson, NC, USA
  • 2013 "The Rust Belt Cities Project" and "The Djembe Factory", Imperial Center, Rocky Mount, NC, USA
  • 2013 "Symphony of Portraits", Barton College, Wilson, NC, USA
  • 2014 "The Wilson Project", Wilson Arts Center, Wilson, NC, USA
  • 2014 "The Rust Belt Cities", Loyola College, School of Journalism, Chicago, IL, USA
  • 2016 "Symphony of Portraits", Taipei Art Photo Show, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2017 "Chicago, A Tale of Two Cities" in the Jing Lü Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2018 "Symphony of Portraits", Dunn Gallery, Wesleyan College, Rocky Mount, NC, USA
  • 2020 "Shanghai Nevernight City, 1985-2020", EOMS Photography Gallery, Wilson, NC, USA