[February 3 2022]
interview by MICKY FRANCIS HES
artworks by NOÉMIE NINOT
In conversation with the upcoming Parisian artist Noémie Ninot. Purple talks about her latest project, which explores how young girls are influenced by the concept of femininity. The intimate pictures of her close friends and their mothers are created with an industrial printing process, which is traditionally used for clothing. Outcomes of the technique suggest, no matter how personal and different it can be, being a woman leaves marks on all of us.
MICKY FRANCIS HES — What inspired you to create “Mothers and Daughters”?
NOÉMIE NINOT — This series is part of a larger project I’ve been working on since more than over a year now. I wanted to explore how young girls are influenced by the concept of femininity and how the mother or female figure can play a part in the transmission and integration of femininity.
MICKY FRANCIS HES — What is it about the connection between mothers and daughters that fascinates you? I personally am touched by how the process created all these layers. To see this variety of different legacies.
NOÉMIE NINOT — I think it’s really the ambivalence that marks the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter, alternating between destruction and protection. The movie The Pianist Teacher, by Michael Haneke really pictures the core of such complex relationships.
To create the works, I used an industrial printing process, traditionally used for garments. This allowed me to create these two layered pictures, collapsing one picture into another through the press heat. It’s a rough process. The pictures get burnt and get scratches. It was fascinating for me to see how well this technique translates to the relationships being approached. These can be really violent and destructive. Some of the results made the faces and bodies disappear. Other results were softer, suggesting a more positive and loving relationship, where pictures merge together in a different way, unifying more than destroying.
MICKY FRANCIS HES — You mentioned that “being a woman leaves marks on all of us,” could you elaborate on this more. And how is this connected to your project?
NOÉMIE NINOT — “Marks” is an interesting term, as it can lead to both mental and physical consequences. “Being a woman” in this case has to do with the conditions of women in this world. What do you have to go through to feel valid as a person, and how will people treat you when they identify you as a woman? An example of short term marks would be beauty practices, such as makeup. Long term examples would be things such as plastic surgery, eating disorders, traumas, violence… This series focuses on the ones left by our mothers, inevitably leading to generational heritage.
MICKY FRANCIS HES — Did you add your own mother into the mix?
NOÉMIE NINOT — Yes! I used only one picture with my mom. In the picture I chose, there is my grandma, my mom and me when I was around 3 or 4 years old. I love that three generations are represented in a very natural, simple way. I am sitting on my grandma’s knees and both my mom and granny are wearing blue jackets. I think we were on a vacation somewhere in The Netherlands.
MICKY FRANCIS HES — How are young girls influenced by the concept of femininity according to you? And how do you translate this into your other projects?
NOÉMIE NINOT — The concept of femininity is the set of psychological and behavioral characteristics specific, or considered specific to women. They are linked to sex or gender, and strongly influenced or even conditioned by the socio-cultural environment.
In a series I made called Matriphagy, I came to meet little girls and teenage girls between the ages of 4 and 16. The girls told me a lot about their fantasies, their future mental and physical projections, but also how they relied on their mothers or sisters as role models whose gestures and language had to be reproduced. These fantasies, although multiple and diverse, testify the violence of the stereotypes surrounding the concept of femininity and the expectations reserved for women. The interviews and drawings collected show that girls quickly integrate the notions of artifice, attraction and sexual pressure. Some already develop low self-esteem, would like to have their lips redone and start diets with their mother to be less “fat”. Others are already asking questions about their future role as mother and wife, while some want to return to the womb of their mother…
Text by Micky Francis Hes