Zoé Forget – Notes for the Patriarchy

Notes for the Patriarchy, denounces with humour and strength the way periods are perceived by society.

Hi Zoé, can you tell us about your background?

After studying filmmaking, I followed the photography course at the Louis Lumière school in Paris, from which I graduated in 2008.

As I wanted to continue a work of research while practicing photography, I then did a thesis, which focused on the representation of the non-standard body in photography. I have also been working since 2011 for the art publication HEY ! modern art & pop culture, and I also give some courses at the university.

“I would have liked to be able to answer: “Before each period, I repeated the chosen “slogan” several times a day to my body, so that my uterus would write it in blood on the D-day…””

©Zoé Forget

Your series on menstruation is very different from the rest of your work. How did you come up with this idea?

Indeed, it is the first time that there is no body in the image – even if of course the idea of female physicality remains very strong.

It was – without much originality – a combination of personal and social considerations that made me want to tackle this subject; as for the choice of the pad, I am interested in the everyday material, “poor”, even taboo, it is something that we explored with Delphine Ciavaldini in our work “Strong Thorns”.

And it was at a time when I felt an impulse to make new images, without necessarily having the possibility or the resources to use models.

“More generally, the determination of the patriarchal society to control the female body occupies my mind a lot.”

What was the creative process for this series?

This is what I would have liked to be able to answer: “Before each period, I repeated the chosen “slogan” several times a day to my body, so that my uterus would write it in blood on the D-day…”.

In reality, I am pretty slow. I need to “mature” my ideas long enough before taking action.

I would say it may have taken me a little over two months. The idea came to me quite clearly, but the choice of “notes” took me a long time, finding what I wanted to say, the right distance between humour and still something quite intimate, while avoiding the idea of victimization.

Then I spent a lot of days perfecting the technical aspects, finding the right way to handle the different writings. For the moment, I consider this series over, but the subject itself makes it endless.

©Zoé Forget

It is a very relevant series given all the debates that have taken place in recent years around the representation of the female body. Do news have an important place in your creative process?

This is particularly true for this series: the various recent stories related to the question of menstruation, whether positive (the victory over the tampon tax, the sportswomen Fu Yanhui and Kiran Gandhi) or negative (the death of a young Nepalese woman, the dickhead who invented a product to “seal” women’ vaginas during their periods because it is dirty, etc) have clearly surrounded this series.

More generally, the determination of the patriarchal society to control the female body occupies my mind a lot. I guess it’s more or less readable in my pictures. Conformity, normativity and, quite simply, the stupidity of the dominant bodies remain a source of infinite confusion.

“I believe that nowadays, every created image will never be received in a neutral way – and will inevitably be, in a broad sense, political.”

©Zoé Forget

In your opinion, should art always denounce, be socially engaged?

I believe that nowadays, every created image will never be received in a neutral way – and will inevitably be, in a broad sense, political.

I recently read and listened to Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, a philosopher and sociologist who, in his latest book “Thinking in a bad world”, explains that there is no injunction for the individual to be engaged – but that from the moment when one produces something intellectually, one cannot be neutral or passive. He is talking here about the academic world (which also speaks to me a lot), but I would tend to see the production of photographic images in the same way.

“The challenge is to take action.”

©Zoé Forget

What advice would you give to build a photographic series?

I personally have a lot more difficulty considering pictures outside of a series! I have the impression that the series makes it easier to explain one’s idea, thanks to the repetitions and variations it allows to set up.

The narrative process, which is more flexible and open, seems to me to be embodied in the succession of images. It may be a vestige of my first passion, cinema, of which I have kept the idea of fiction. In any case, I am keen to take advice on how to achieve a strong and significant unique image

Do you have other projects in the pipeline?

In my head, always! The challenge is to take action. But I am preparing several projects, including the use of other unusual materials… but I am still in the experimental phase of the work.

 

You can discover Zoé’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram

This article was translated from French