‘Les Tortures Volontaires’
256 x 335 mm
Still up-to-date and a real find: Messager’s photo series on the image of the body from 1972. “Beauty knows no pain” is a phrase that, upon closer scrutiny, is shocking and disturbing. The French artist Annette Messager (*1943 in Berck) began pursuing this idea in the seventies when she assembled photographs from magazines for her groundbreaking series Les Tortures Volontiers (Voluntary Torture).
In Messager’s photographs, which are as alarming as they are absurd, breasts are lifted into suction cups, thighs are massaged with electricity, exfoliations look as if a second layer of skin is being peeled off. Yet the laughter sticks in the viewer’s throat, because women all around the world still actually submit themselves to these and other procedures in order to look more like the norm and more “beautiful.”Messager recently rediscovered these prints in her studio. This is the first time the eighty-one-part series has been published in its entirety and in its original size. In the accompanying essay, the artist, whose work has been exhibited multiple times at the document, discusses the genesis of the series.
About the Artist
Annette Messager is a celebrated contemporary French installation artist. Working in a conceptual and feminist practice, Messager examines conventional perceptions of women by individuals and by society at large. Her early pieces focused on domestic objects such as textiles, toys, and found objects, and her through her later work she has continued to question the feminine and masculine.
About the Publisher
Hatje Cantz Verlag is a German book publisher specialising in photography, art, architecture and design. It was established in 1945 by Gerd Hatje and has offices in Stuttgart and Berlin. Hatje Cantz Verlag has a backlist of nearly 800 titles.