Through his series Eternal Memory, Orsa deals with bloody and marking trivial news. On the night of March 26th-27th 1996, seven Trappist monks from the Monastery of Tibhirine were kidnapped. After two months of confinement, their killing was announced on May 21st 1996, in a statement attributed to the armed Islamic Group. The decapitated heads of the monks were not found until May 30th 1996, not far from Medea, but their bodies were never found, which raises doubts about the official thesis explaining their death.
During a visit of the Cistercian Abbey of Aiguebelle in 2011, Orsa had the idea to review this drama: admiring the monks praying in their long white robes, magnified by the light of the place, he had a flash. He immediately recalled the tragedy that occurred in 1996. Orsa immediately feels the need to pay tribute to these monks. Immersed in a monastic light, these bodies without head seem to float in space. One is caught up by these moving bodies. The light game helps to transport us into a different world, a kind of hereafter where these monks come to life again.

Stéphanie Pioda



Habiba, a Berber woman, dignified under her scarves, showing only her face and her hands. She doesn’t speak any French, so the exchange is right away limited for those who do not speak Arabic. But the next morning, a family arrives at the house accompanied by an interpreter. Orsa takes the opportunity to have a few words translated for Habiba: he would like to photograph her on the beach. This might have appeared an incongruous request, but the young woman accepts without hesitation, shyness or reservation, and without losing her radiant smile. It will be done after lunch. Without a doubt, her face, and that look, has already captivated Orsa, but he would love to see her hair, revealing her full beauty. This is taboo for a Muslim woman, but he shares his wish with her anyway. The interpreter conveys his words to Habiba, and with natural ease, « she puts her hands up behind her head and removes her headscarf. » One cannot help thinking about the words of the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Djalâl-od-Dîn Rûmî, who wrote: « Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words. » The level of trust that was established between the two people is immediately evident in the resulting photographs. But unlike the poet who claims to « fix at least the trace » of those moments, these photographs allow us to bear witness.

Stéphanie Pioda