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Estelle Hanania. It’s Alive! – An exhibition guided by puppets and ventriloquism

The Maison de Europenne de la Photographie in Paris has devoted its Studio program to emerging designers, offering them an audience to present their works

From September 3rd, 2020, French photographer Estelle Hanania will exhibit her works at the Mep space, honoring the director and choreographer Gisele Vienne. Taking Haninia’s latest book, It’s Alive! as an inspiration foundation for the exhibition, the series lays «halfway between reality and fiction, between the perceptible and the invisible», highlighting what is less tangible for the viewer. 

The book It’s Alive!, published in October 2019 by Shelter Press, drew inspiration from the choreographer Gisele Vienne – whom Hanania collaborated with over ten years. The stylistic direction folklore further influenced the artist, persuading her to focus on «practices linked to vernacular rites, costumes, and masks», to address the mechanism that forged identity. 

Through her works, Hanania evaluates aspects that give the human body uniqueness by observing human transformations, playing with costume or disguise. «Her series of photographs are the result of projects and research carried out over long periods, during which a relationship is formed with the people or communities she immortalizes. Her taste for ancestral traditions and cultural practices took her to Indonesia, Japan, and the mountainous regions of Europe. She does not seek to prove or illustrate a theory», explains La Maison de Europenne de la Photographie, «subjects, on the contrary, remain shrouded in mystery».

ESTELLE HANANIA, SANS TITRE (I APOLOGIZE), 2016 © Estelle Hanania

In the exhibited series in Paris, Hanania will unveil photographs not to be confused with documentary imagery, distancing herself from traditional theatre performances or the art of transmitting clear and tangible information. Instead, the artist intends to reveal details that occur away from the stage, out of the frame. The series should invite its observers to reconstruct a story, using the clues given. Both Vienne and Hanania «play on the confusion between animate and inanimate to leave a form of uncertainty in the mind of the spectator».

Photographer Estelle Hanania graduated from the Beaux-Arts de Paris and won the Hyères Festival photography prize. In 2008 commenced the collaboration between Hanania and choreographer and artist Gisèle Vienne, amounting to her book It’s Alive!. Her works have been featured in a range of magazines, including names from Another Magazine, The New York Times Style magazine, or Mémoire Universelle.

View gallery here

Lilly Meuser

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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