One Photographer’s Erotic Exploration of Bed and the Female Form

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Embedded by Vincent Ferrané
Photography by Vincent Ferrané

In his bodily new series, created in the Hotel d’Amour in Paris, Vincent Ferrané explores the social and metaphorical space of the bed

Embedded, the latest series by photographer Vincent Ferrané, wants us to think outside the box. Initially created during an artistic residence at the Hotel d’Amour in Paris, he collaborated with the performer Pauline Lavogez to create a ‘mosaic’ of images that show her in, on, and around a bed. “The idea was to explore the rectangular space of a bed in a way that is limited and very open, and the social and metaphorical body that evolves in this space,” Ferrané tells AnOther. The pair came up with ideas using something approximate to automatic writing, establishing an inventory of bed-adjacent activities: scrolling, binging, working, crying, trying to sleep, making phone calls, painting your nails, taking selfies, waiting for an answer, escaping. The list goes on.

Produced over five days in a bedroom of Hotel d’Amour, the pair were inspired by other artists who had used hotels in their work: Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman. However, covering the walls with a white sheet, any signifier of hôtelerie is concealed. “We wanted to insist on a performative, arid element of the bed – like a white page … a microcosm where ordinary, clichéd representations of intimacy slide gently towards something more enigmatic.” Lavogez offers strange, unreadable poses. “I had this idea of not knowing if you are a prisoner or if you are a guard or a jailer,” says Ferrané. This is most clearly shown in the series’s props. In one shot, a resistance band is criss-crossed around Lavogez’s legs (a symbol of strength or constraint?) Elsewhere, a bed sheet is tented in the air by her body like a hut, in another it drapes over her like the costume of a ghost. A T-shirt being taken off? Eroticism and asphyxiation. Ferrané’s formal decisions – shooting in black and white, and cropping Lavogez’s body (her face is scarcely pictured) – add to a sense of abstraction. At times the images seem more aptly read as landscapes with rolling flesh, and sheets draped in a valley.

Yet despite the sensations of solitude and anguish – Francis Bacon, Paula Rego and Edward Hopper’s shadows were all other references – in the aller-retour between photographer and subject, Embedded retains a sense of levity. “The idea was not to create frozen images, but to allow us to really play, to make the movements evolve, to change position and point of view, to create unique images out of this back-and-forth between Pauline and myself,” says Ferrané. In the penultimate image, Lavogez is dressed in black, contorted. In the final image, the same clothes are neatly arranged on the bed, and our performer has disappeared from view.

Find out more about the series here.