Les Tortures Volontaires
Two gelatin-silver prints in passe-partout
Diptych, measuring 19 × 14 cm each
Set of two unique photographs, signed by the artist
This diptych comes with a copy of Annette Messager's 2013 publication Les Tortures Volontaires
about this work
For her 1972 work Les Tortures Volontaires (The voluntary tortures), Annette Messager collected diverse images from magazines and advertising, some of which are amusing, while others are almost frightening. Although these motifs are from the early 1970s, Messager’s theme – the many procedures we undergo to make ourselves look more “beautiful,” our self-images, and our notions of beauty – is still very au courant. She herself writes: “Today bodies and faces are remodeled, redesigned, dreamed up, but still standardized according to the collective criteria of our contemporary society. Unlike wine, which alters and develops its full bouquet as it ages, we human beings continually fight against this natural process of time.”
The work from 1972 consists of a wall installation of black-and-white photographs and an Album Collection. Only recently has Messager discovered another set of 81 prints from 1972. Taking advantage of this discovery, this series is published in its entirety by Hatje Cantz. For this limited edition one gelatin silver print will be made of each negative, and its size and mounting will be based on the 1972 originals. Each edition is made up of two motifs, presented with the book in an elaborate fold-out set.
about Annette Messager
Annette Messager embarked on her artistic career amid the tumultuous climate surrounding the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris. It was in this atmosphere of radicalism that she discovered that art could be found in the streets and in the tasks of everyday life, rather than solely within the cloistered realm of the museum. Some of her early pieces—such as Boarders at Rest (1971–72), in which she clothed dozens of embalmed sparrows in tiny hand-knit sweaters, and My Collection of Proverbs (1974), a selection of mostly misogynistic phrases about women hastily embroidered on unhemmed squares of cloth—use modest materials and techniques commonly associated with domesticity and often devalued as “women’s work.” Her nostalgia-laden gestures belie the subversive messages of social concern in her art, in which the conflict between nature and civilization and the lack of sexual equality in society are recurrent themes.
(courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum)