Geneviève and MarieVic, a mother and daughter duo from Paris have been shooting their pictures showcasing social distancing, under their project titled Avenue Montaigne, a series of photographs by artist MarieVic. There is a limited edition of C-prints available for sale on her website.
As soon as the pandemic struck, MarieVic packed her bags and left for Paris to be close to her family. She packed one large suitcase, her laptop with three hard-drives and came to the fashion capital of Europe. Upon arrival, she self-isolated herself in a small apartment that belongs to her mother Geneviève. The apartment has two rooms and one of them hosts her mother’s wardrobe — a selection of garments she has been collecting over the years and that she still wears. However, she couldn’t meet anyone and felt displaced which brought her closer to the clothes in the closet. “I couldn’t see my family or my friends, I felt displaced and I missed my work studio. So I started spending a lot of time in the wardrobe, working on dressing up, making relationships with clothes… I was getting accustomed to the rules of the lockdown. I was allowed to venture out to exercise, one hour a day, within a certain distance from my apartment. I was fascinated by the look of the empty city. It was extremely beautiful, and eerie. It seemed that Paris had been put on a window display, yet the stores were closed. It was unavailable. Unlike my mother’s wardrobe,” says MarieVic, a visual artist currently living and working in New York City.
Geneviève and MarieVic infront of the Dior store ( Photographs by artist MarieVic )
Le Relais Plaza restaurant becomes the backdrop ( Photographs by artist MarieVic )
Soon MarieVic came up with the idea of shooting with her mom. She says, “My train of thought was organic and this project is the result of contingency.” Geneviève and MarieVic took pictures with masks and also showcased social distancing. “Avenue Montaigne was located within the allowed distance from both our places. So I asked mom if she’d accept to perform a daily ritual — we’d meet half way on the legendary avenue and we would pose in front of the abandoned stores, putting ourselves on display, showcasing her impressive collection in the empty street. It kept us connected, the project was a celebration of life under social distancing code. As time went by, I realised the daily encounter could become an “exercice de style” – the retelling of the same story, each in a different style. First I’d photograph Geneviève, then I’d take a self portrait, using the camera’s timer. We had only one hour to perform the photographs,” explains MarieVic.
MarieVic says the looks were carefully curated according to the backdrop chosen. “The styling of each image is a careful balance between different elements. I would plan outfits to fit certain storefronts or architecture. I’d work on the wardrobe, trying to compose an assemblage that I’d bring along with me. We’d change in the empty street, six feet apart from one another,” says MarieVic.
Givenchy showroom in the background ( Photographs by artist MarieVic )
The duo in front of a Betty Catroux poster and scaffolding ( Photographs by artist MarieVic )
When asked about the experience of stepping into her mother’s clothes, she says, “It was interesting. Spending time in her wardrobe felt like visiting her own museum of innocence. It displayed items evocative of certain periods…Once I started wearing the clothes for the shoot, I was not getting into her style but rather I was getting into her garments. Ultimately the images do not really reflect our individual styles. They reflect a style that’s constructed for the occasion.”