About This Project

Emmanuelle Becker

Surrealist theory is central to my photography. The Surrealists drew heavily on Sigmund Freud’s investigations of the subconscious. The Surrealist Manifesto emphasized the importance of the unconscious in the creative process. They saw objects as entities both capable of revealing one’s inner being, and as things onto which artists could project personal meaning. Through a transfer of unconscious emotional charge, an object is endowed with a new and subjective meaning — I see this as giving life to inanimate objects. This transference process is central to my art and specifically so to this body of work. In this series, I photographed a mannequin, using it as a vessel for my emotions. Because it appears human, but is not, I am free and unabashed to share my inner self. The art of puppetry is often used in art therapy as a means of visualizing thought process, by exposing the symbolic substitution between the puppeteer and the puppet. The use of the mannequin in my work is similar. This group of still life portraits is inspired by the statue of “Nefertiti”, on exhibit at the Neues Museum in Berlin. I titled the body of work, “La Belle est Venue”, which is the French translation of “Nefertiti”, literally “beauty has come”. I was in Berlin on the first day museums reopened there, following the first COVID-19 confinement, and was literally the only person in the Neues Museum, allowing me to admire Nefertiti at length. I was taken by the sculpture’s realism and moved by the Egyptian queen’s immortal beauty. I subsequently read André Breton’s iconic surrealist work, “Nadja”, in which he describes the book’s central female character as “convulsively beautiful”, in an “emotional and transforming” way. This description echoed my experience with the bust of Nefertiti. Each image has for me a very real correspondence with an inner state and its palpable emotions. The deconstructed appearance evokes emotional unfolding and the fragmentary nature of the subconscious.



2nd Edition