• MENNESSON Odile

broadway musicals

Photographing a body involves exploring its every aspect without circumscribing it, in the hope of freeing it from definitions. The formal fragmentation of the portrait reveals the fundamental truth of the body’s irreductibility.

Here, the photographic window is focused on a small ‘theatre’. The ‘set’ is relatively bare, and some elements within it suggest a familiar, everyday environment. In the middle of this enclosed ensemble, we perceive a body. Removed from its daily preoccupations, this body begins to move and assume various poses: its movements are expressive, conventional, deliberate, or intuitive, taking the form of a dance. Time comes to a stop as the body composes its own story; yet there is no real story as these movements are without purpose. This is more of a reverie, in which the idea is to aestheticise reality, and render it joyous or at least give it an air of freedom—voicelessly seeking the shift from reality to the imaginary that is so characteristic of musicals. ‘Hybrid, heterogeneous, and anti-naturalistic, Hollywood musical comedies are based on highly artificial dramatic and formal codes, which the writing processes, acting, and directing constantly highlight via the continual theatralisation of the instants of performance.’
Hence, this is a hybrid process that brings together photography and theatre, and performance and dance—a theatrical framework established by the photographic frame; a dancing body, whose fulgurance and fleetingness are evocative of performance. This echoes the philosophy of Pina Bausch’s dance theatre and ‘the rehabilitation of poetry (…) in its ability to marry the possible with the real’,fusing and intermingling the real and the possible. It is a process of construction that requires one to search deep within oneself, exploring the body as matter, with its norms and emotions, to create a bold presence. ‘A shaping of the present, in which the past resonates and the future is evoked.’

The anonymous and whimsical nature of these photographs invites the viewers to immerse themselves in this enchantment of the real world. Far from the ineffectual carpe diem or stifling vanity, the idea is to be—as Albert Camus imagined—a happy Sisyphus. This work celebrates the lightness of Sisyphus. It complements the memento mori with a memento vivere.
Here, there is no moral injunction, but rather the reuse of the body as an archaic tool for constructing oneself and the world.

Each photograph shows a fragment of a gestural act. The various fragments are assembled and ‘mounted’, in a rhythmical composition, freed from narrative. Each series is printed on matt paper to attenuate the photographic effects and enable the images to have maximum impact. The connection with everyday life is underscored by the title and the presentation in the form of easily handled objects: in a horizontal format, Japanese notebooks that highlight the process of writing and continuity; hung vertically are individual flush wooden frames (20 to 30 cm for the long side) whose layout highlights the choreographic and fragmented aspects of the images.

MENNESSON Odile

Odile Mennesson was born in 1980 in France. After an intensive experience in modeling and drawing, she turned to photography which enabled her to capture playfulness and laughter as a subtle observer of reality. In 2004 she qualified in photography from Gobelins school of Image, Paris.
Since meeting Bernard Perrin, professor at the National School of Fine Arts of Paris, she has launched herself on a formal quest for meaning, further enhanced by a bachelor of visual arts in Paris.
Odile Mennesson currently lives and works in Paris.