The Blindest Man

Joanna Cresswell in Lensculture:

The Blindest Man follows the story of the elusive Chouette d’Or (or ‘golden owl’)—a golden sculpture buried somewhere in France in 1993 by an author working under the pseudonym of Max Valentin. The same year, Valentin—whose real name was later revealed to be Régis Hauser—released an accompanying book entitled On The Trail of the Golden Owl, which included 11 cryptic clues as to the statuette’s exact location. It became something of a phenomenon in France back then, and almost 30 years later, many people continue to search for it. To this day, however, it remains unfound, and the author has long since passed. Made in France between 2015 and 2018, the pictures in The Blindest Man introduce us to a number of different people on the hunt for the golden owl, following along on their failed routes. These people are referred to as ‘the searchers’.

Each of the 11 clues in Valentin’s On The Trail of the Golden Owl consists of a riddle and a painting, and these two components are heavy with symbolism. The paintings of long grasses, cockerels and keys are simple and bold, while the accompanying words speak of phantom images we have to conjure for ourselves: a spiral with four centers, the arrow of Apollo, an opening that reveals a heavenly light. In turn, similar symbols are woven throughout Graham’s photobook—a spiral staircase leading nowhere, for instance, or a single peacock lingering on a hillside.

More here.