Clarisse d'Arcimoles' new project is inspired by portraits from the Victorian age, including staging an old photographic studio for the exhibition Forget Nostalgia at Breese Little.

d'Arcimoles has always had an attraction with the past, and living in London has offered her the possibility to confront this fascination in many ways. But with Forget Nostalgia - A Little Theatre of the Self, for the first time the artist makes her childhood dream come true.

In her interview featured in issue 12 of Elephant, d'Arcimoles said: 'When I was a child all photographs were in black and white. I loved the idea that you could physically walk through the picture frame and enter into a black and white photograph.' The concept of Forget Nostalgia is rooted in this childhood feeling.

 d'Arcimoles looked at ancient photographic portraits from the Victorian and Edwardian era.
At that time people used to send their portraits as postcards, and the photography studios offered costumes and props that give the costumers the opportunity to represent themselves in imaginative ways. They could be aviators, swimmers or even the incarnation of a victorious British empire.

The French artist underwent a meticulous period of research and tirelessly crafted everything herself, as can be seen on the Forget Nostalgia blog.
In referring to that ancestral moment in photography, d'Arcimoles reminds us that photography has never been only a document of reality, but it has offered a visual means of social self-representation.

But as the title of the projects suggests, Forget Nostalgia is not about a nostalgic feeling for the past, and d'Arcimoles’ re-enactment of these old portraits is playful and uncanny at the same time. While building all the theatrical props in black and white, she took the photographs in colour with a modern camera - the rosiness of her skin reveals the photograph’s fiction.

Forget Nostalgia runs until 19 December at Breese Little. 

Breese Little
30d  Great Sutton Street

All images courtesy of the artist and Breese Little.
London EC1V ODU