There is something troubling in these self-portraits.
Something that can at times also be deranging.
The fact that the photographer is rather young and pretty doesn’t facilitate the dialogue. This merely puts between her and the viewer an apparent protective distance at first glance. But only at first glance.
We are here, therefore, in the intimacy of a languid moment, of long exposure that is auspicious blurry, the ideal atmosphere for smooth, choreographed movements, for blond highlights, for white lace, for damask fabrics, for candle light that dances upon antique mirrors, and for warm, reminiscent tones that never cease to dissipate… This is the troubling part.
But the deranging aspect is the regard. The one who is photographing herself here, the one who surrounds her body with decorative, feminine elements reminiscent of painting, does not purport to forget neither the camera nor the spectator. She is not an actress. She is not acting. She puts herself into play. She justifies herself.
Yes, there is truly something troubling in these self-portraits.
Something that, eerily, has something to do with a certain violence: “Turn on the light. Don’t leave me alone in the dark.” In this exchange between the one who looks at herself, the one who looks at us, and the one who we were looking at, we can clearly see the work of seduction, and this would already be sufficient in order to construct an intriguing series of formal beauty, but we can also, in each fold, in every suspended gesture, hear the whispered secrets of a child, an adolescent, a young woman.
To photograph oneself is to put oneself in danger. And it is in this series in particular that Emmanuelle Bousquet chose to master time through artifice that was, in its beginnings, that of the medium; she also opens herself up to it. Extremely constructed, her portraits also, paradoxically, speak of the need to let go.
To say that the light is used here as the sensual caress of a paintbrush seems evident. Emmanuelle Bousquet knows it. As do we. But we don’t know the tears that this caress must wipe away, the bruises, upon the body or the soul, that this touch must anoint, the fears that the tenderness must ease. Perhaps with the release of this book, you will have an idea.
9 June 2023