Through her photographs, Céline Bodin investigates the notions of gender and identity in Western culture, weighing the legacy of our art history.
Re-enacting the suggestive gesture borrowed from Old Masters to 19th century paintings, the series Light of Grace explores female representation’s conflict with ideals and beauty archetypes. The series reflects on a world of virtuality and image proliferation, in which our eye is constantly stimulated to recognise and where sight has become a dominant form of knowledge. By only suggesting identities and pictorial aesthetics, these photographs thereby test the logic of our perception and acknowledge our eye’s tendency to immediate association. The series explores Beauty’s intuitive quality, existing beyond the clarity and precise traits of a particular object.
Each photograph acts as an evidence of a typical representation of women across time, within which are quickly recognised the everlasting themes, and perhaps redundant pretexts for female iconography, that continuously served the idea of femininity. Such images leave the viewer in a search through their own catalogue of art history.
The series The Hunt is a photography project operating as a brief encyclopaedia of female hairstyles from various periods in time, within the cultural frame of Western culture. The anonymous figures appear as ornate statues: characterised by their hair’s aesthetic association to various revisited stereotypes, they form an unusual yet all too recognisable collection of trophies. Again, the anonymous nature of the series activates our mind’s associative aptitude, while strongly relying on one’s own fantasies and projections of sensuality, innocence, order, freedom, frivolity, or social rank. The series offers two versions of each image: its positive and inverted form, to point out the systematic and signifying quality of each style, re-enforcing the prototype-like aspect of the presented ‘categories’, or referents. Here, hair acts as a pointer to constructed gender. Echoing classical art, the images become the referent to a mystified icon rather than an actual portrait of an individual.
Venus Variations is themed on the various representations of the goddess Aphrodite/Venus. Bodin investigates the character that became an iconic genre saturating cultures all around the world, to convey the ambivalent truth of a subject that is part mythology and part carnality. The series plays on a relic aspect and questions notions of cult and chimera, reflecting the many variations and reimaginations in stories and representations of Venus, and the way they were received. A little like a canvas with many ideas, sometimes following the same lead, sometimes going in different directions, depending on different accounts and visions. Venus Variations is a dreamed rewriting, a celebration.
Céline Bodin (born 1990, Louviers, France) is a French photographer living and working in London. She trained at the Gobelins School in Paris and in 2013 graduated with a masters degree in Photography from the London College of Communication. Purdy Hicks Gallery held her first solo exhibition in 2019. Her work has been included in several publications and exhibitions, such as fiction illustation commissionbed by The New Yorker magazine in 2019 and 2021. Her series Light of Grace was presented as part of the exhibition ‘Squaring the Circles of Confusion’ at the Royal Photographic Society, Bristol, and Scarborough Museum in 2022-23.
The publication 'Celine Bodin: The Hunt' was launched by Radius Books in Summer 2022.