The full flower of youth, by Dagara Dakin, independent curator
It may seems strange, or incongruous, to wonder if the Adonis Landscapes – as the photographer Anne-Lore Mesnage named her series – are portraits, landscapes or still lifes, as they seem to hesitate between these different kinds. It is only to refer to the title of the series to get the answer, one is tempted to retort us. But a series of photographs isn’t only to be identified by its title which allows to distinguish it from another series. Words entail images which are sometimes contradicted or refuted by themselves. For example, in the landscapes of Anne-Lore Mesnage, faces of teenagers give form to a diptych with landscapes which actually aren’t always. Sometimes identifiable or concealed, her “portraits” seem caught in vegetation that blurs identity, as if a mask would make room for the landscape which the “portrait” echoes to. All this is about metamorphosis and the role that environment plays in our lives. “The human being seems too often to forget that he operates in an ecosystem among interdependent elements in which he is himself subjected. He then puts in jeopardy the natural links that are related to him.” says the artist. Through the images and the title of the series, we can not help thinking that there is probably an implicit reference to the age of youth, considered as the spring of our lives of the mortal beings we are. But we can also think to the Metamorphoses of Ovid and all these stories where at the end the heroic figure fades and leaves a symbolic plant or flower signifying his passage on this earth. The nymph Clytie, lover of Helios, is changed into a sunflower, while Tristan and Isolde, are embodied respectively, or reincarnated into a glycine and a honeysuckle. And the photographer to clarify about the teenagers she “immortalizes”: “Successively embodying the divinity Adonis, they partially get integrated by the plant they seem to tame. Referring to the painter Camillo Boccaccino (...), they stand, proud and upright, ready to take root.
“The photographs by Anne-Lore Mesnage summon literature, and fit in the history of photographic practice and more broadly in the artistic field, at least.