Emmanuelle Becker

Child’s play

“Child’s play” is a portfolio of photographs in a category between still lifes and genre scenes. The images are comical, kitsch, strangely disturbing, nostalgic and poetic. They represent strange associations of ugly and futile trinkets, made of porcelain or other materials, moving, abandoned, mismatched, broken toys, time-worn trinkets, all of which could be there by chance; but are not. In my photographs, these bric-a-brac are key characters with symbolic meaning, at the heart of the stories I tell and the subjects I address. These dark stories bring back childhood memories. Old-fashioned wallpaper patterns, candy-colored highlights, dark, dreamy atmospheres, and eerie shadows help write the eerie subtext of each image. These photographs evoke disturbing experiences that occurred in another place and another time, etched forever in our memories.

I like to look for objects that speak to me among the disorderly displays of flea markets and thrift stores, those that once cluttered the shelves or filled the bookcases without books; memories of distant travels, past collections, objects whose sentimental value is now forgotten. I don’t choose these objects with a specific idea in mind. It is a process of discovery. I imagine scenes, crafting visual stories as I walk the bleachers. I try to create dramatic tension in my photographs. My images do not tell stories per se, but offer contextual elements that suggest narratives, allowing the viewer to imagine the possibilities outside the frame.

The way I compose my photographs is similar to the way children play. These games in which children imagine scenarios, take on roles and pretend to try to reproduce and understand the world around them. I share the seriousness of this type of game, its creative dimension, the way it involves thought and emotion, how it helps to define good and evil. My compositions explore the forces that drive humans (sexuality, ambition, jealousy, conflict, fear, hope, etc.) and allow me to reflect on the resulting societal issues. The scale of objects is essential, as are centered compositions and directional lighting. These visual devices create an intimacy with the viewer that allows for personal reflection. From these strange scenes of daily life emerge themes at the heart of the moral and social debates that drive us.

Emmanuelle Becker



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