Detail of My Works (Mes Ouvrages). 1987. Gelatin-silver prints under glass and colored pencil on wall. Overall dimensions variable. Collection the artist. Other details of the work appear below.
In the My Works series of 1987, Messager connected her photographs with strings of words written in colored pencil on the wall. The installations recall calligraphic poems as well as maps. The words are drawn from amorous language in its various tones and moods: tender and anxious, fraught with the same kind of ambiguity that ties intense happiness and arousal to madness and death.
Detail of My Works.
My Works diagrams intense feeling rather than portraying it outright. Messager deliberately introduces a critical and self-aware distance: the work is a glosslike comment on emotion, a playful game that nonetheless has poignant and even painful moments of self-recognition. Much of Messager's work creates this palpable distance, in which the viewer becomes aware of the artist's self-consciousness and deliberation and recognizes the constructed nature of even the most intimate communications. And, although each installation of My Works resembles a map, the hermeticism of the individual's understanding of love and its terrain may preclude real communication.
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Copyright © 1995 The Museum of Modern Art, New York.