I’ve always wondered if we’re really aware of the power that images have over us. We are daily overwhelmed by them, yet, when we deliberately choose to use images, or to create new ones from scratch, something magical happens.
A clear example of this, is the self-portrait practice, often used as an instrument of imagination, self-analysis and identity reflection (as for example the dramatic self-portraits by Francesca Woodman) or of civil, social and existential investigation (as for example the female investigation perpetrated by Paola Mattioli) almost as a balm capable of leading to a greater oneself and the outside world awareness.
When the lens meets the tangible matter of one’s body, it actually detects much more: it highlights fragility, fears, awareness, messages in the bottle that take shape through the image itself.
And this is exactly what lies behind the shots of the “Tissues and bones” project taken by the French photographer Anne-Laure Etienne.
Since 2017 and for 6 years, Anne-Laure has self-portrayed in the places of her land, beautiful unspoiled landscapes in the South of France. In a moment of great psychological and physical weakness, she found in photography a means to reconfigure herself representation and express her discomfort.
Her body imprisoned in the tissues, becomes an evidence of a sense of psychological claustrophobia from which to get rid. The bones mentioned in the title of the project constitute the most secret part of our body, the one that resists time and even death, and for this reason they are the most authentic testimony of our intimate essence. What initially seems trapped, compressed, suffocated, soon changes: from constriction cage, the tissue becomes placenta, a soft protection that protects, but does not inhibit, light veil that caresses, but does not force.
The lightness of the bodies, immortalized in aerial dances or moments of physical effort in tension, testifies to a flowering, a rebirth, just like the landscape in which they are captured. In this sense, the natural context is never a simple backdrop that poetically frames the scene, but constitutes a dialogical and evolving element, painted with bold and energetic colors. Thus, the geography of space gives way to a geography of self-representation.
The subsequent healing allowed her to photograph friends and relatives, giving them the opportunity to enter into deep contact with the most hidden part of themselves and Nature.
With a few scenic expedients, Anne Laure’s creativity and artistic background allow to reconstruct suspended microworlds in which the real, symbolic and imaginary dimensions meet: so tulle fabrics, voile and organza dialogue with the textures that Nature offers to careful observers, creating levels of reading and games of light and shadow in which the body creates soft and light lines.
In this project, there is a message of joy, hope and strength: like the one in the photo where, wrapped in a fabric of clouds, Anne Laure stands proud and down to earth, but with her gaze turned to the sky she seems to be part of.