Annette Messager. My Vows. 1988-91

Annette Messager My Vows 1988-91

  • Not on view

My Vows brings together hundreds of photographs that each present a small part of a human body: mouth, ear, foot, nose, genitals, hand, breast, and so on. Each hangs from a string, joining and partly obscuring others. Together they make a dense circle whose diameter is barely greater than the height or arm span of a tall person. The individual elements—male and female, old and young, seductive and repellent—form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Physical, psychological, and sexual identities commingle in an inexhaustible variety of unpredictable relationships, which together threaten to overwhelm the stable patterns of our familiar arrangements.

Gallery label from Here Is Every. Four Decades of Contemporary Art, September 10, 2008–March 23, 2009.
Additional text

This work brings together hundreds of photographs, each of which presents a small part of a human body: mouths, ears, feet, noses, genitals, hands, breasts, and so on. Each hangs from a string, joining and partly obscuring others. Together they make a dense circle whose diameter is barely greater than the height of a person or the span of his or her arms. The individual elements—male and female, old and young, seductive and repellent—form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Their physical, psychological, and sexual identities co-mingle in an inexhaustible variety of unpredictable relationships, which, together, overwhelm the stable patterns of our familiar arrangements.

Messager's Vows might be the passionate devotions of sexual love, or they might be the votive offerings of an old religion, hung in a chapel to ask for the healing of an ailing eye or limb. These divergent allusions are fused in this hybrid work—part photography and part sculpture.

My Vows (Mes Voeux). 1988-91

Publication excerpt from The Modern Museum of Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 331.
Medium
Gelatin silver prints, colored pencil on paper, glass, tape, string, and pushpins
Dimensions
Overall approximately 11' 8 1/4" x 6' 6 3/4" (356.2 x 200 cm)
Credit
Gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation
Object number
308.1992
Copyright
© 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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