Chochana Rosso has been a photographer at the JERGON agency since 2022, located in Berlin. Graduated in graphic design in 2014, at the Higher Institute of Applied Arts, with a specialization in publishing, Chochana Rosso is twenty-nine years old.
Her end-of-study project, an experimental photographic book on the confinement of women and their bodies in Parisian brothels, before their official closure in 1946, bears witness from the start to her obsession with the body, nudity and exploration of femininity.
For my 14th birthday, my mother gave me my first camera. I built myself a photographic diary if I didn’t write one: family, holidays, objects, exhibitions, animals… and my first self-portrait. In 2020, I found this first photograph of myself.
We are on vacation at my great-uncle’s house on the Ile-de-Ré. Upstairs, probably in a bedroom, there are two large windows with a chest of drawers in the middle, decorative objects on them and a mirror hanging on the wall. The photograph is not taken totally in front of the mirror which seems to be tilted. But it is centered and surrounded by windows with almost symmetrical curtains. From me, you can hardly see anything in the reflection of the mirror. The flash of my automatic camera hides my face entirely and only my shoulders appear.
I did not take any more photographs for about four years, working then as a graphic designer in a Parisian boutique. The only shots I take are rare and have the effect of memories. Although I no longer build anything with photography, it remains present in my life.
Especially when my maternal grandfather died in 2018. When I go to see him for the last time in the hospital, I have a small camera in my bag. But I won’t take it out. I sometimes think back to that photo that doesn’t exist: his smudged, stocky hand with strong, muscular fingers in mine, pale and smooth.
The shock of losing this man who had been very present in my life and my discomfort at work redirected me to my first passion for photography and the desire, even the need, to create.
Since then, she has pursued research on the understanding of sexuality and the appropriation of the body through a series of self-portraits, dance videos and paintings.
Alongside this strong line, she is developing a project in which she enters into the intimacy of the creative process of emerging artists whom she portrays. Out of fascination for the works of Hervé Guibert and Jean Cocteau who shared their lives with the artists of their time and immortalized them in photographs, drawings and/or writings, she wanted to recreate this exchange. This is how Natacha Paschal and Camille Vignaud open the doors of their workshops to him, and present their work and their stories to him. It is the same with the couple of photographer and filmmaker Félix Cornu and Justine Abitbol who express how they work together and influence each other in their work.
The workspace of artists says a lot about their way of creating, of seeing the world, their references. It is their intimacy and, in my opinion, it represents the inside of their mind. All the small objects that make up their workshops fascinate me. Being able to have an exchange from artist to artist is something that I find essential in a society where we often feel in competition against each other. And I find it important to share his artistic approach outside the framework of an exhibition. The artist’s work is constant and is part of him, it matures and evolves with him. That’s what I find fascinating.
From my beginnings in photography, I had a fascination for work on the body. Educated by a dance teacher mother, my approach to the naked body in particular is naturally free and pure. I consider it as a tool of expression and an external representation of our emotions. It is a medium in its own right.
Revealing my body is an important step and an affirmation for me. The nude allows me to materialize my emotions and transmit my artistic vision. I use my body to symbolize my wounds to better understand them, accept them and take ownership of my body little by little. Photography is my path to healing and its journal.
Like a diary, each photograph represents a thought, a pain… a part of me. I build this intimate and autobiographical visual collection around my disappointments in love, my sexual relations, the absence of my partners, my hopes and I carry out research on the understanding of my sexuality and the appropriation of my body through my self-portraits. The discretion, or even the absence, of representation of my partners is essential to tell these relationships from a distance, experienced mainly digitally. The lack of daily life with these ephemeral lovers created visual frustration, among other things. I missed having the opportunity to take pictures of each other in private. It created holes in my journal that I could only fill with the selfies they sent me.
My various and varied research and experiments (photographs, fanzines, videos, paintings) will lead me to a more general reflection on the way women are perceived in society, through the eyes of men. I then come up against dictates and prejudices when I share my photographs on social networks. Such as a naked female body is almost automatically sexualized, nudity is an appeal to the gaze of men or even because I do nude photography, I am considered a “man-eating” woman.
Through my fascination and my studies of Greek mythology, I found a certain duality in the story of Aphrodite. It was a life force and its influence on sexuality was both positive (fertility) and negative (lust and desires). This duality remained anchored in the attributes of Aphrodite for a long time, surely due to the circumstances of her birth. Indeed, the Greeks tell it as follows: in the dark night, before the birth of the world, the mother goddess, Gaia, tired of copulating with Ouranos, convinces her son Kronos to act for her. He cut off the genitals of Ouranos and threw them into the sea. From there, Aphrodite was born near the island of Cyprus. The goddess will retain several attributes, in particular her proximity to the sea and nature. Later, with the evolution of civilizations and the wars of conquest, the place of women in society will be marginalized. Additionally, the creation in literature and the arts of a male-dominated society will lead to a sexualization of the goddess. His interest will now be focused on his body, which will be fantasized and made available to men, and no longer on his power. I see in the story of Aphrodite all the differences that women have to face regarding their bodies and their sexuality in modern society. Female sexual freedom being a source of pejorative judgments. So many contradictions and injunctions that form my central reflection and that I apply to my own self-portraits.
I identified with the goddess and her manifestations: her closeness to nature, her duality, her sexual freedom and her body. As well as his cursed loves and disappointments that motivate some of his actions. I face the comments generated by my photographs and which question me about my sexual and intimate behavior with men and question my relationships. Through introspection, I seek to confront my shortcomings and identify my emotional flaws. Leaning on Aphrodite helps me to understand the world around me, to tame my hypersensitivity and my obsessions as well as to learn how to heal from my disappointments.
I build my diary like an artist learning who she is, and what it means to be a woman.
S*x Diary (2021-2022)
“It’s something very personal that I’ve never seriously talked about: my obsessions, my fascination with sex and its representation. Not a word in therapy, or to those around me.
This obsession I have for bodies that intertwine. The mixture, the fusion of everything, the pleasure. And keep track to remember intimate moments. Pleasure of the flesh.
The texture of the skin, the smell, the warmth of the breath, fingers in the hair, the sounds of bodies touching, slapping and caressing each other, the softness of the lips, the warm taste of the saliva mixing together, etc…The flashes are made of details that I remember: a tattoo, the sound of a breath in my ear, a whispered word, an eye contact I’m not used to…
This series is about memory flashes that I recreate from their memories through mine and the camera lens.”
This project in progress is about intimacy. More precisely, the creation of my intimacy through my memory. I imagine what men saw of me during sex and create my own version of their memories. I transcribe their looks through the camera, which becomes the man, and I want to create a new masculine look at my body through my own prism.
In the form of a diary, I mix photographs of my body, the traces of my/their memory, with photographs of flowers and personal objects that represent me and evoke eroticism. This project is a continuation of the series /æfɹəˈdaɪti/ (Aphrodite) and focuses on the discovery and experimentation around my sexuality.