Exhibition views Nom Prénom, Rue du For, 01800 Pérouges, France, Maison des Arts Contemporains, Pérouges (France) – 2022
Installation – 65 framed nominative wallpapers – 50 x 70 cm – 2021-2022
Épouses (Wives) is a series of 65 portraits of women, made by recovering various wallpapers dating from the 1950s to 1980. These papers are glued and presented framed under glass, to accentuate this idea of representation, taking up the usual codes of monstration of a portrait photograph.
Indeed, these two objects became accessible to the working classes and, during the same century, multiplied and were installed in abundance in homes. It was during the years when these two objects were most present in the home that the vast majority of wives ran the household, while traditions placed particular importance on the social role of the housewife, who had to devote herself to household tasks, reproduction and the education of children. To emphasise this parallel, each portrait is named after a woman, a wife.
It was not until 1965 that the reform of matrimonial regimes allowed women to manage their own property and to carry out a professional activity without their husband’s consent. This date defines the number of portraits in the series.
As for the 50x70cm format of the portrait, it is inspired by the official portrait of our country’s representative, French President Emmanuel Macron, whose slightly increased size posed a problem of buying suitable frames in many town halls at the beginning of his term. Thus, these nominative objects draw attention to the importance of the unofficial, usually hidden in their homes and here represented in the same format as a man of power.
These wallpapers then function as imagined, dreamed, fantasised portraits based on what the viewer has in their possession, namely the look of the chosen wallpaper and the female first name that corresponds to it. Installed in the gallery and in large numbers in the exhibition space, these women – Marie-Louise, Annette, Hélène, Yvette, Andrée – fill the space and surround the viewer, as if inviting him or her into their home.