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Emmanuelle Becker: Child’s Play
"Child's Play" is a photographic portfolio of quirky still lifes in which I arrange time-worn trinkets and toys to have them interact in the dark narratives I create. In these photographs, I am interested in addressing and representing the many complex emotions and desires that drive humans, such as sexuality, ambition, conflict, jealousy, fear, and hope. I see the objects like characters in a play. I am interested in their emotional life. Like in the theater, I try to create dramatic tension in my photography. My images do not tell stories per se, but offer the viewer visual ingredients, snippets of context that suggest narratives.
I like to explore flea markets. I do not go with a specific idea in my mind but rather let the knick-knacks I run across speak to me. It is, in fact, the object itself that suggests a character, an emotion or an idea, as if its raison d'être had always been to take life in the scenes that I imagine. While browsing the stands, I combine my acquisitions in my head into different scenarios.
I have always been interested in Surrealist thought and art. I mention this here because the Surrealists believed in the occult life of objects and their power to engage our feelings and thoughts.
Back at the studio, I build my compositions like children play. I move objects around and bring them to life through the characters they interpret in the scene and what their role symbolizes. Like children, I try to reproduce the world around me. I hope that the final image will evoke memories of significant experiences that have somehow shaped our understanding of the world, indeed who we have become, individually and collectively. My photographs can be comical or kitschy, and sometimes provocative. Vintage wallpapers, candy-colored highlights, dreamy moods, and looming shadows contribute to the subtext of each image. The nostalgic quality which characterizes this series, underlines the importance of memory in perception.
Perception is a mix of subconscious sensory stimulation combined with cognitive activity. This continuous and simultaneous brain activity triggers a slew of physical sensations that we recognize as emotions and organize into structured thought.
I am interested in exploring the more emotional side of perception in my photography. The cognitive mechanisms involved in processing information rely on learned notions which influence and orient our understanding of the world. So much of perception is subsequently filtered, inhibiting us from truly seeing.
The scale of the objects, the directional lighting and the centered and frontal compositions are visual devices that help establish an intimacy with the viewer to lead her/him to introspection and reflection.
Emmanuelle Becker is a Franco-American artist-photographer living in Paris. She studied photography and printmaking at George Washington University in Washington, DC., graduating with honors, and pursued a master's degree in painting at Pratt Institute in NYC. She has exhibited her work in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States and is the recipient of multiple awards and distinctions. Her work has been featured in several international photography publications.
Please return in a few days to read the critical reviews about the exhibition and to view and order the exhibition catalogue.
This exhibition was supported by the Local Government of Ferencváros District (Budapest Főváros IX. Kerület Ferencváros Önkormányzata).