Inside a New Book of Sensual Photography and Poetry

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We Have Been Meaning ToPhotography by Marie Déhé

Artist Marie Déhé and writer Haydée Touitou debut a new book entitled We Have Been Meaning To, which seeks to celebrate “the eternal flame of the feminine”

A good book is a kind of seduction, taking us deep inside ourselves and revealing an intimate realm that comes alive in silence. Now imagine two authors, working across media, to draw us in through photographs and poetry that celebrates the eternal flame of the feminine. This is what artist Marie Déhé and writer Haydée Touitou have created with their new book, We Have Been Meaning To (Art Paper Editions).

“From the beginning we knew we wanted to do something light and joyful while never lacking depth,” Touitou tells AnOther. The pair, who first met in 2017, began working together on The Skirt Chronicles, a publication co-founded by Touitou, and quickly became close friends. They partnered again for a feature on James Murphy for Profane magazine, and enjoyed it so much that they decided to take their collaboration to the next level with their very own book.

“It felt so easy and natural [to work with Haydée],” Déhé says. “It was quite unusual for me as a photographer to collaborate with a writer but I really loved it: researching together, sharing and exchanging [ideas about] a similar topic with different media. The idea of a book was a desire to work together again on a personal project where we could be free to express what we want. We started in autumn 2018; I was pregnant at this time and it made me rethink the way I wanted to work and take pictures.”

Déhé sent a selection of photographs to Touitou who then penned poems in reaction to each image, creating a dialogue rooted in a collaborative approach to art-making while still maintaining an element of mystery. “I still haven’t told Marie or our publisher which poem was triggered by which picture,” Touitou reveals. “The final selection and order of the book doesn’t reflect the process at all. That’s the beauty of it. They all go quite well together.”

Touitou and Déhé bring the idea of sharing to every level of the work, including with the readers, who will receive a small edition of postcards when they pre-order the book that they can in turn send to friends. “We wanted to make something beautiful but simple and easy to carry anywhere,” Déhé says. “We liked this idea of making a collection of moments and shared feelings, something that could feel like a journal.”

Touitou adds, “This book is a companion to reverie. It makes daydreams tangible and lasting. Some pages are left blank [so that] one could even feel free to write on them.”

We Have Been Meaning To by Marie Déhé and Haydée Touitou is published by Art Paper Editions.