The French conceptual artist Annette Messager is known for her diverse installation works, which cover a number of different artistic disciplines. Her works, which utilizes photographs, are among her most interesting pieces. Messager uses photographs combined with sculptural elements to create unique photographic collages.
Annette Messager was born in France, in 1943 where growing up, she was motivated by her father to take up art. Messager’s work utilizes a number of different mediums and she has created installations with dead animals, stuffed toys, puppets, prints, various textile forms, drawings and most importantly, photographs.
Photography has been central to her artistic work with her winning a Kodak sponsored international photography competition early on in her career in 1961.
Some of her earlier photographic work included her series of photos called Children with Their Eyes Scratched Out, which featured family photographs with the children’s eyes scratched out as described by the title. She has continued to use photographs in her work and in several of her works she has made use of the techniques of collage in interesting and innovative ways.
One of these works, Mes Voeux (My Vows) in 1991, is a fine example of her use of photographic collage. Messager suspended from strings hundreds of photographs of individual body parts to signify the fragmentary nature of identity. Each photograph was framed and layered on top of each other, whilst a similar effect could be achieved through the traditional method of collage by being mounted onto a background, Messager chose to use a different technique.
Through the suspension of each photograph Messager seeks to emphasize that although the photographs together create what appears to be a unified whole, they are also separate elements. This brings a whole new dimension to the concept of collages as it moves away from simply trying to create a new image from different elements and looks at preserving some separation and movement between each photograph.
Messager’s work explores issues relating to the body, the feminine, identity and sexuality and her photo collage work is no exception.