by Gaia Lamperti
“I wanted to tell intimate stories of bodies, and let the women I photographed choose how they wanted to occupy the space.”
How can female bodies be photographed differently? This is the proposition that guided photographer, sculptor and writer Emma Boittiaux's work for her latest, and still ongoing, series En Son Sein focusing on the connection between women and their breasts.
With this body of work, made of delicate images and evocative sculptures, Emma wanted to create a space for women to open a dialogue with a part of their body that has traditionally been over-sexualised. “I wanted to tell intimate stories of bodies, and let the women I photographed choose how they wanted to occupy the space,” she told me talking about the series.
En Son Sein involved a lot of listening and giving the subject the time they deserve to really decide how they wanted to be seen. “Some images took up to four months to be taken,” Emma added. Every relationship built through this project became of uttermost value to the photographer.
“I’m very close to all my subjects, I really wanted to tell their stories and include them in my space. Most of the times they were women I already knew via my mum or who came to me because they were fascinated by the project and wanted to work together. I would never force anyone to share such personal things.”
Emma’s mother, a retired nurse with a lactation degree, indeed was key in giving birth to this body of work. She used to hold a support group at home to help women through their breastfeeding journey, where discussions were centred around women’s breasts without shame or judgement.
With En Son Sein, the artist likes to think that she is continuing her mother’s work, and while she does not have any medical knowledge, she still manages to keep her mother’s memento going through her own language; sculpture.
Each piece is thought through the testimony of the women it was made for, resulting in a jewellery-like object that the artist had spent up to 40 hours making all by hand, like the hours her mother dedicated to the women she was helping.
She incorporated different materials, from raw metals to wire fabrics, leather and silicon to look at the relationships women have with their breasts in a really global sense.
The attack against a sexist society, starting with social media still censoring art nudes all the way to the continuous legitimation of rape culture we still have to endure, is clear in Emma’s work.
Starting from Thursday 6th of October, the artist's work will be exhibited at Juju's Bar & Stage in London.
On the occasion of the launch, SLEEC founder Megan Baker will join Emma Boittiaux on stage for a talk about art and activism: “The intimate is political; taking back ownership of our narratives through art”. SLEEC is a sexual abuse survivor-run organisation working on dismantling the roots of male violence and fighting for collective care and more radical approaches to recovery and survivor identity.