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French duo Cécile Hesse and Gaël Romier structure their photographic work as a series of visual tales defined by strange, highly sophisticated and carefully orchestrated settings. TH13 premières Août, the latest collection in a troubling, off-beat tradition.
Cécile Hesse and Gaël Romier met while studying at the École Supérieure d’Arts Appliqués in Vevey (Switzerland), and have lived and worked together since graduating in 2000. Together, they apply their wit and sense of fun to creating inventive, precisely-staged and frequently disconcerting situations, scenes and objects. Reworking the conventions and traditions of the fairy-tale, their highly personal narratives mix irony and sensuality in a cleverly constructed, off-beat universe.
The exhibition brings new layers of mystery to the duo’s world, where seashells are the natural choice of footwear for a princess… With a nod to Lautréamont’s famous surrealist adage, photographic historian Michel Poivert characterizes one image from the Août series (produced by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of its mission to promote new work by young contemporary artists) as ‘the improbable encounter between the sea-bed and a bourgeois drawing-room.’
The new photographs showing at TH13 complement a retrospective at the Photoforum PasquArt in Bienne, in association with the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. Les Chiens nus (‘Naked dogs’) presents Hesse and Romier’s earliest series – Miroir sans tain, Pour le meilleur et pour le pire, Duchesse Vanille and Picnic à l’Ether – the source of many now-iconic images: scraps from court shoes, lined up like a collection of vulvae, a belted roll of meat on the back bonnet of a car or a pile of plates interspersed with elegant lingerie…