From February 28 to May 26, 2024, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) proudly presents an exhibition that intertwines the literary world of Annie Ernaux with the visual realm of photography.
This exhibition pays homage to Annie Ernaux’s literary masterpiece, “Exteriors” (Journal du dehors), published in 1993. The book chronicles everyday occurrences on trains, in shops, and on the streets in and around Cergy-Pontoise from 1985 to 1992. The curated display combines excerpts from Ernaux’s text with over one hundred and fifty photographs from the MEP collection, featuring renowned photographers like Harry Callahan, Claude Dityvon, Dolorès Marat, Daido Moriyama, Janine Niepce, Issei Suda, Henry Wessel, and Bernard Pierre Wolff. The selected images span the latter half of the 20th century and capture moments not only in France but also in England, Japan, the USA, and various other countries.
Annie Ernaux’s profound words echo throughout the exhibition, reflecting on her unique approach to capturing the essence of people and places: “Committing to paper the movements, postures, and words of the people I meet gives me the illusion that I am close to them.” She contemplates her observations on public transportation, wondering about the lives of others and often questioning her own identity in comparison.
This visual-literary collaboration is further extended through the accompanying book, “Exteriors: Annie Ernaux and Photography,” published by Mack books. The project, curated by writer Lou Stoppard, delves into Ernaux’s endeavor to “describe reality as through the eyes of a photographer and to preserve the mystery and opacity of the lives I encountered.” The exhibition and book illuminate the profound interplay between written and visual expressions, offering a fresh perspective on the connections between literature and photography. Themes like class, travel, social stereotypes, and individual identity in the modern urban environment are explored, showcasing the rich dialogue between these two art forms.
Exteriors: Annie Ernaux and Photography
from February 28 to May 26, 2024
MEP – Paris