Through the looking-glass

Emmanuelle Bousquet was born on February 14th, a premonitory sign from the very beginning. Heir to a legacy of couturiers, the influence of fashion and art was naturally upon her from a very young age. Having expressed herself a strong interest in photography, her grandmother fueled this passion with a gift of a tiny, red Kodak camera for her tenth birthday. Her first snapshots were self-portraits, copying model poses and dressed in her mother’s oversized wardrobe.

As a teenager, Emmanuelle Bousquet approached photography in a less playful and more existential manner. At this fragile, adolescent period, her parent’s painful divorce and her father’s ensuing abandonment left a profound mark on the young photographer. She would never see her father again.

After attending the Superior School of Journalism in Paris and got her diploma, Emmanuelle applied to the UCLA in Los Angeles, which she followed with a program at the SPEOS Photography Institute in Paris. Her choice was decisive.

She then decided to photograph those closest and most dear to her: her mother, her sister, and herself. The result was her first series of photographs, produced in black and white, showing the three women together. Subsequently, Emmanuelle decided it was better to use her own body as the material of her work, just as a painter uses his own paint. Through self-portraiture, she passed through the looking-glass.

A timeless style

In 2004, Emmanuelle met photographer Antoine d’Agata, who suggested that she totally immerse herself in self-portraiture, completely and in a more direct, refined way. “Being my own model allows me to control each photograph, to become one with it. This doesn’t mean showing off or glorifying myself, but rather it’s about finding a way to express what I’m made of, my body being my mind’s instrument.” A timeless style was born; from that moment, the raw, underlying truth that emerges from Emmanuelle’s images was given life. Taking refuge in places of comfort for several weeks thereafter, she produced her first true series of self-portraits, entitled “Troubles.” This series is a reflection on a time when the artist confronted her past traumas. Strengthened from the inside out, after ten years of sufferance, her work on femininity developed, as seen through the evolution of her body. The result is a more aesthetic, symbolic concept, and a mise en scène that has become the essential mark of her photographic style.

Illusion, Emmanuelle’s second series of photographic self-portraits, is composed of painterly, timeless, mystical images. In this series, she uses the autobiographical tool as a means to speak about femininity. A sensitive, complex, and mysterious human being, who lives under the illusion, the distorted sensation, of having freed her femininity, in a world where appearances rein sovereign.

In 2012, a new chapter begins, with Emmanuelle’s third series, “Whispers.” Herein, the artist relives her adolescence via young models, selected by well-defined criteria; the artist leaves behind self-portraiture in order to live vicariously through these stand-ins. Young girls imagined into a mysterious, fairytale garden. Whispers is part of a larger work on femininity. This work expresses the difficulties experienced during this extreme yet eminent transformation, becoming oneself, a woman, with all that it entails, its secrets, its silences, when a young girl’s body becomes, perhaps a bit too quickly, a bit too soon, that of a woman.

In her newest series, The Day After, the young girls from the Whispers series become young women. The bodies are stripped bare and bathed in a more diaphanous light. The woman within her is born; she has come into full contact with the world. This is the result of research that is as much aesthetic as it is existential, the worldview of an artist seen through the prism of her own reflection.