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The Book Column: Eloïse Labarbe-Lafon : Album


A Collection of 80 hand-painted photographs, “Album,” the first book by Eloïse Labarbe-Lafon, published by Cé Editions, immerses us in the mysterious and nostalgic universe of the French photographer.

On the red cover, a medallion reveals a doe-eyed gaze above a crimson mouth. Below, letters reminiscent of a 19th-century book create a title with Art Nouveau elegance. Within its pages, black and white prints have been hand-colored. The book is characterized by a disconcerting contrast between contemporary silhouettes and subjects and the vintage treatment they receive.

Nude or disguised bodies pose languidly in nature or in cozy interiors. They wear pearls and ornaments, evoking both Pierrot and Alice as well as a Mexican charro. Flowers, landscapes, and still lifes punctuate these poetic portraits, contributing to the silence that permeates the book’s atmosphere of solitude. Enhanced with touches of pink, blue, and sometimes yellow, it all forms a collection of great gentleness—a dreamlike tale with heroes and heroines lost between our time and the Victorian era.

Eloïse Labarbe-Lafon draws inspiration from various influences, citing both pre-Raphaelitism and the vaporous photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron, as well as colorized postcards from the early 20th century. Her background in film restoration sheds light on her love for experimental cinema, evident in some of the kaleidoscopic images in the book. Her training in stained glass in Mexico, used for framing her prints, emphasizes the importance of gesture, manual intervention, and craftsmanship.

Despite being infused with vintage photography, “Album” is, for Eloïse Labarbe-Lafon, the mirror of her “own reality” and the questions that drive her. The photographer plays with faces that sometimes meet, hide, duplicate, or fragment, in the way of an identity being formed. The old tales blend with autobiography to create a delightfully anachronistic object.

Zoé Isle de Beauchaine


Eloïse Labarbe-Lafon – Album
Cé Editions, 2023
128 pages, French / English
ISBN: 978-2-493545-07-7
Available in all good bookstores or online.

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