Jeanne Ménétrier (Fr, 1990) lives and works in Paris. After completing a HND degree in Photography at the ETPA of Toulouse, she studied arts at the Université Jean-Jaurés. Since 2014, when she awarded the first price of the Prix Canson Art School, she starts working to multiple reflexions about femininity as well as the dimension of gender. She is always injecting a further research on film photography, her medium of expertise. Within her works, aesthetics and form are often muddled as the use of blur and double exhibitions are voluntarily grasped and used.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: The Hen Project
Sensitive, complex, nuanced, exacerbated, sexual, homo, bi, hetero, white, black, woman... man. There are a plethora of terms defining a person. But gender is one of those archaic concepts still defining our modern society. Exempt of nuances, this binary idea is, today, questioned. With it, our whole identity evolves. It is then the nuances of the infinite plurality of the interval that humanity is exploring.
Free from all constraints, Jeanne Ménétrier draw up a 3-year cartography of emotional travel where the limit, the box, the sharpness, the simplicity give away to the unknown, to the confusion, to the incoherence of the infinite ambiguity of genders.
With her work, she explores this infinite complexity of human identity, meeting characters, whose only criterion of selection was the emotion they gave to her. Jeanne records the unsettling, foggy and hazy reflection of their gender, but above all, their identity.
When and where did The Hen Project begin?
I've been working on femininity for a long time and open this subject to all kind of genders was obvious for me. In the same way, I worked with blur for a long time and pushing my researches on photographic medium was in the continuity of my work. So I started to photograph people who wanted to talk about their gender. I shot in analog. Once I finished the film with the model I rewinded it to photograph landscapes or details from nature to create these analog double exposures.
I almost never contacted models but put a research note for this work on facebook and chose from the people that were interested by my project. I wanted to work with people whom this subject matter to.
Then I asked them to write a text on their respective gender and took photos at their place according to what they said to me. This was the important part for me to give them a place to express themselves and not to impose my vision.
Something that I noticed is that many of the models asked what size I was waiting for the text and if I was going to use it directly with the photos. I felt like they were not used to be free to express themselves the way they wanted. I talked about boxes in the project statement because I feel too many people are restreined by those boxes. And it's just a simple question to know if I were waiting for a particular size for the text but I felt this was an exemple of how not free we often are.
Where do you see this project going?
This project is finished and not finished :) It won't evolve but I will keep working on genders and experimental photography. I have many lead to where I want to go, what I want to talk about.
I may work on social pressures and how we are XXXX by others judgements but in the same time might be the ones that are judging others. On how we should try to feel what others feel, to try to see their point of vue.
This work has been published on many websites, not sure yet but must be published in an artbook and I'd love to exhibit it. I've already exhibit a part of this project. I'm also organizing a group exhibition on the subject of gender in which I'll exhibit the Hen Project.
I'd love to exhibit lots of times (and not only in big cities) but must importantly I'd like to make a book with this work. I did the editing while having the idea of a book in my mind.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
I'm a photographer and director so I need lots of creativity in my job but that let me less time to work on my art practice. The thing is, I think I always knew I was an artist so create is my life. It is part of ma personality. I have new ideas all the time, sometimes I think so much that I can't even do all the ideas I have :)
I did photography and art studies so almost all my friends are in creatives fields, whereas it is contemporary art, music, fashion, animated feature film... that helps, I think it is really important to not be alone in creative practice, to have people you can talk to, that understand what it is and most important even is to not have "toxic" people surrounding you because it is hard to keep doing art and having people telling that you won't make it, or other negative stuffs won't help you.
Finaly that is not original but I get my inspirations from so many things, from people I meet, from everyday life, from street scene, from instagram, from movies and tv shows, even from younger artists. For me artists should work together instead of fearing competition because we, artists, are the prisms of society so it is normal to talk about same subjects, to have similar ideas. What make someone a great artist is his/her/its point of view, his way to treat a subject and not really the subject in itself. But that's only my point of view :)
What’s next for you?
What's next? Keep build my career as photographer, director, artist. Try to help as many people as I can with my work. Try to stay humble even if I get known at some point. Try to be happy, not all the time but in the whole picture. To spend as much time as I can with my friends and family. To spend as much time as I can in nature. To respect people, earth and animals.
I have this project to work on judgement like I said but it won't be really photo work. I think I'll use words for most of this project.
I have started to work on old family pictures of my mother that comitted suicide and was mentaly ill. I think this is a subject important to me.