French infestations

(Collages, and gender-and-sexuality, rather than language.)

Holiday project: assembling a set of thematic collages based on images by the French male photographer Marc Bessange (see my posting here), with two added elements: a brief text from the New Yorker (all cartoon captions, except one quotation from Jim Carroll) and insect stickers. I like these highly constrained schemes for collages (though, god knows, I also do much more unconstrained stuff), as in my academic collages.

Here Bessange offers a wonderful assortment of images of young Frenchmen relating to their bodies sexually — with assurance, invitation, puzzlement, unease, trepidation, inquisitiveness, whatever, each image with its own tone. The stickers introduce a sense of threat into this world: the insects are infesting the men’s bodies and beings. And the New Yorker captions make the whole relationship problematic by stating a topic, thus making the collage into what I called (here) a puzzle picture:

I’m fond of assembling “puzzle pictures”, which can be treated like the images in the projective tests devised by clinical psychologists (the Thematic Apperception Test, for instance).

Like the TAT images, my puzzle collages are intended to get people to tell a story about what they see — not, however, as a way of gaining insight into people’s inner mental lives, but as a spur to creativity. Each one can be seen as the basis for a short story, in which the elements of the collage are resolved into coherence, or serve as the springboard for magic-realist story-telling.

I have no definitive resolution of any of these puzzles, though I have my own stories (comic, tragic, absurd, pedestrian) for some of them.

There are a dozen collages in the set:



This has the Carroll quote (about New York City, though Bessange’s man is in Paris), and it’s the only image (in this set) in landscape rather than portrait orientation.













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