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Exteriors - Annie Ernaux and Photography at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

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Professor Anna-Louise Milne discusses Exteriors - Annie Ernaux and Photography: the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) exhibition showcasing the Nobel Prize-winning author’s Exteriors (Journal du dehors) in conversation with photographs from the MEP’s collection.

Scenes of everyday life are far from mundane in Exteriors - Annie Ernaux and Photography at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP). Instead, Ernaux’s trenchant style is further sharpened by photographs from the MEP’s collection, chosen with a keen eye by curator and writer, Lou Stoppard.

Exteriors: Annie Ernaux and Photography
Image credit: Dolorès Marat, La Femme Aux Gants (Woman With Gloves), (1987). Dolorès Marat

Professor Anna-Louise Milne, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at the Institute in Paris, considers the interaction between these two art forms in her recent article in The Conversation. The exhibition takes texts from Ernaux’s 1993 work Exteriors (Journal du dehors): an assemblage of journal entries recording ephemeral scenes of everyday life over seven years of Ernaux’s commute into the city from the outskirts of Paris.

The pages are separated out to make room for more than one hundred and fifty images that cut into the ordinariness of everyday life, revealing angles and affinities that are often bruising and beautiful in equal measure.

What results is a greater understanding of how Ernaux has fine-tuned her senses to harness and relay the everyday in writing that is quietly detached, yet close enough to be abrasive.