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Articles in English

Shirley Rufin, interview by Dominique Brebion


Shirley RufinArchéologies mentales

Shirley Rufin
Archéologies mentales

How do you define your work and artistic practice?

My work questions both our perception of nudity and how to use best the photography medium. I deal with nudity as a taboo in our Martinican post-colonial society, which otherwise witnesses the excessive exposure of the Carnival period.

The starting point of my work is the scandal caused in the nineteenth century by the naked woman in Edouard Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’Herbe which I used for my final exams as a three-dimension remix in a feminine perspective reversing the roles : in my version it is the man who is naked.

My work questions the contemporary practices of the remix, of sociological investigation and photographic experimentation.

 You mention experimenting photography: can you develop this aspect of your research?

Body metamorphosis, distorting the body to make it anonymous and impossible to identify are for me a way to oppose the taboo about nudity. The use of a camera allows me to operate this substitution in several steps. Starting from a classical photo on paper which is burnt with acid and then pressed under a copper plate, then the body alteration is achieved. Finally, I take a digital photo which is enlarged and printed on Plexiglas to reveal the work, isolated remains on a dark background, a vain chimera.

Vain means pretentious and narcissistic; like a Narcissus venerating his own beauty undoubtedly, but also reminiscent of this category of still life, Vanities, or allegories of the precariousness of our life.

Is there some part of chance in producing such pictures?

Much less today because I learnt to master the process. After an unexpected discovery while experimenting I learnt to control the process of alteration achieved through acid, copper and time.

Sirley RufinPause photo numérique 2005

Sirley Rufin
photo numérique

What do you mean by mental archeology?

Mental archeology –or mental images- means that we must understand the memorized or imagined representations from our brain that are formed without a direct visual stimulation. If, precisely this mental imagery is not the direct result of perception, it is otherwise based on our past visual activity and combines with our own capacity of imagination to produce new mental images. So, with this notion we must associate the representations of objects, ideas and concepts as well.  Moreover, I associate this ‘mental archeology’ with the notion of reconstitution as they constitute the fully artificial recreations of something in order to reproduce its aspect or even a particular state of mind. And these images have a double nature as they come from the conscious or unconscious part of us.


Traduction: Suzanne Lampla

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