The Line

PHOTO ESSAY

The predictable linearity of a woman’s life.

Words & photos by Céline Bodin


For The Line I asked several young women to wear their mother’s old wedding dress, thereby exposing the viewer to a direct confrontation of past and present. As I subjected my models to what could be considered an experiment, I aimed to capture the responsive attitude, the
revealing gesture.

Each girl was to request the precious wedding dress from her mother, sometimes by having to continuously try and convince her, in acknowledgement to the object’s sentimental value.
The Line developed into an intrusive process within each girl’s history and intimacy as well as an investigation of the mother-daughter relationship.
Most of the time, our mother’s wedding day isn’t part of our own history, but we take for granted that it is, as we do not detach our parent’s history from our own. For a daughter, the impression such an image leaves, although sometimes unconsciously, is of great influence and part of her will identify with it.

Considering the dress, a daughter can’t help but compare it to her own taste. She remembers the photographs she saw in order to put it on correctly. But the ambiguous thought of wearing a wedding dress, which was owned before she was born, could make her feel like she is putting on a stranger’s most personal and precious attire. This triggers discomfort and guilt. After all, the wedding dress should only be worn once! The compromise between mothers and daughters was a considerable one.

Staging both possible past and future, the project considers familial transition within its significance and consequences.
The resulting portrait might be one of both mother and daughter. It highlights a melancholic absence that can only be filled in each girl’s imagination, fed by the detail of the lace, the small holes and stains left on the dress, the old wedding photographs she might have seen…
Confronting time and generations, the models silently re-enact a past they can only fantasise, allowing themselves to embody the archetypal role.
Within western culture, the young girl often envisions the bride as the epitome of a role model. But the person itself is only a surface, a vague idea. The dress embodies the idea it becomes a symbol. By staging the dress within a dominantly white environment, the portraits quietly recall religious purity and aim to question what exactly defines such incarnation and where does its essence lie: is it within the dress, the person, the vision, or the idea?
Nowadays marriage isn’t attached with the same social pressure it used to bear in the past generations. It has become a choice, a possibility that defines our personality and principles. The meaning has therefore shifted. It is about confronting our beliefs and visions of life.
On the other hand, the vision of the young woman itself hasn’t changed in so many ways. The cult of purity is somehow still very present within the construction of a girl’s own femininity. The concept of the bride is very much impregnated with it, even only allegorically. Moreover, a woman bears in mind what her family might naturally expect of her, without feeling any appeal to it. I wonder how deep a girl actually envisions marriage as a personal decision and not a social, familial one.

Ultimately, The Line addresses one’s reaction to the weighing signification their image suddenly bears. These portraits recall the quiet vision of the young girl to be married, and question the fatality of such notion through the passing of time and generations.

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