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Emmanuelle Becker


Child’s Play

“Child’s Play” is a portfolio of photographs in a category between still lifes and genre scenes. The images are comical, kitschy, strangely disturbing, nostalgic, and poetic. They represent odd associations of ugly and futile knick-knacks, made of porcelain or other materials, moving, abandoned, mismatched, broken toys, time-worn trinkets, all of which could be there by chance; but aren’t. In my photographs these odds and ends are key characters with symbolic meaning, central to the stories I tell and the subjects I address. These dark narratives are reminiscent of childhood memories. Old-fashioned wallpaper patterns, candy-colored highlights, dark, dreamy atmospheres, and ominous shadows contribute to writing the sinister subtext to each image. These photographs evoke disturbing experiences which occurred in another place and time, forever etched in our memories.

I like to look for objects that speak to me among the disorderly displays of flea markets and thrift shops, those that once cluttered shelves or filled bookcases without books; souvenirs of distant travels, past collections, objects whose sentimental value is today forgotten. I do not choose these objects with a specific idea in mind. It is a process of discovery. I imagine scenes, elaborating visual stories as I walk through the stands. I try to create dramatic tension in my photographs. My images do not tell stories per se, but offer contextual elements that suggest narratives, allowing the viewer to imagine the possibilities outside the frame.

The way I compose my photographs is similar to how children play. These games in which children imagine scenarios, take on roles and pretend in an attempt to reproduce and understand the world around them. I share the seriousness of this type of play, its creative dimension, the way in which it involves thought and emotion, how it helps define right and wrong. My compositions explore the forces that drive humans (sexuality, ambition, jealousy, conflict, fear, hope…) and allow me to reflect on the societal issues that arise from them. The scale of the objects is essential, as are the centered compositions and the directional lighting. These visual devices create intimacy with the viewer that allows for personal reflection. From these strange scenes of everyday life emerge themes at the heart of the moral and social debates that animate us.

Emmanuelle Becker



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