Co-auteur de la série « d’Art d’art », et conférencière spécialisée dans les rétrospectives d’artistes contemporains, Marie-Isabelle Taddéï « préfère aujourd’hui parler d’art, plutôt que de vendre ou de présenter des œuvres. » Mais sa rencontre avec Pauline Thomas donnera instantanément envie à l’ancienne galeriste de promouvoir la jeune artiste. La curatrice explique ce qui la fascine autant dans les œuvres de la photographe et plasticienne de 38 ans. Au-delà de l’illusion d’optique des phallus en érection, la série « Gorgeous » donne « envie de vivre le cou en l’air », à l’image des modèles photographiés la nuque retournée.
Pour évoquer la force et la puissance de la musculature dévoilée, la vulnérabilité de cette anatomie offerte, les effets de lumière, les clairs-obscurs et les « recréations » picturales effectuées sur les photos, l’artiste et la commissaire-d’exposition ont choisi d’organiser un événement à travers deux lieux situés tous deux à Paris.
A Jourdain, près des Buttes-Chaumont, le volet « expérimental » permettra de découvrir les dernières recherches plastiques de Pauline Thomas : des photos organiques composées de grattages, collages, écorces et peinture... Et dans un autre espace situé en face de Beaubourg, le chapitre « monumental » de Gorgeous racontera, à travers des tirages de près de 2 mètres de haut, la genèse de cette série de photographies et le témoignage de ses « patients zéro », comme Marie-Isabelle Taddéï a surnommé ces tous premiers cous immortalisés.
The idea of taking pictures of necks as expressive portraits came to me as a consequence of four successive events.
A chance low-angle auto portrait, shot as the camera release went off by mistake, a visit to the Erechteion temple in Athens, 2007 electoral campaign, my singing lessons and my rediscovering Nan Goldin’s picture “The Hug”.
First, the auto portrait I had taken by chance (while I tried to understand where should my voice come out) conjured up in me the intimate feel and the sensuality of a woman’s neck, violently challenged by the potent, erect jaw.
Secondly, during my trip to Athens, I was deeply struck by the overt demonstration of power encapsulated in these Acropolis temples, which are supported by immense colonnades. Erechteion (the temple of the goddess Athena, or Minerva in Latin) is significant in that its structure rests on the necks of goddesses known as Caryatids.
The 2017 electoral campaign, which staged the fight for power between a woman and a man, instilled meaning to my holiday snapshot of the Erechteion temple. The Caryatids seemed all at once both gentle and strong, serenely reversing the Judeo-Christian values of power and responsibility.
Through a fascinating plunge into the depths of the history of representation, I found myself back in ancient times, when artists would represent battle scenes through the unconcealed nudity of the male body, with intensely tauten muscles. Today however, it is the female nudity, devoid of shape or form, which prevails in the war of images.
Lastly, what I like in Nan Goldin’s “The Hug” is the use of the flash which characterizes the ambivalence of feeling all at once violence and tenderness , before it flattens the fusion of the two bodies into one compact block.
These four elements guided me in my endeavour to give concrete expression to the feeling I had that values and lifestyles were going through transformations so great, that the confusion they generated was becoming visible in our bodies.
I started this series shooting the necks of 30 different women using a flash, each woman disclosing her neck to me. I felt as though I were taking stolen pictures, since none of the women was able to strike a pose or make use of her eyes or attitude … with their heads toppled over, not one could have imagined herself like this.
Erect shapes without identity , altogether powerful, animal and feminine… Blatant antagonism is comprised in these masks which seem to be intently looking at their beholder. One can somehow make out the position of the mask’s eyes, but these seem to be but a mirror without reflection. We generally make portraits of people in whom we recognize something of ourselves, as we sense an ineffable feeling overcome us. Here, the very identity of the photographer or photograph beholder, is left thoroughly unsettled. The series is made of hybrid, disembodied identities, notwithstanding their being extremely carnal…
Some of the prints have been damaged over the time, after being exhibited and badly manipulated, I received one day 5 of them quite scratched and literally good for the bin.
You can imagine this is not easy to do: first, throwing art away, what about that ?, second, the consequences for the environment, it’s not acceptable.
It took a few years, a new art project on waste management, the #metoo movement and the view of Jim Dine’s The Crying Sand to finally have this idea: going on with the erasing process. I started to scratch the photos even more with sanding paper and black painting to creating what you’d recall of the Bacon effect. The chiaroscuro oil painting feeling comes out even more, a new movement that makes shifting this long-run serie.