About Gabrielle de Montmollin


Canadian photographer working with dolls to present the portrait of an era. Gabrielle manipulates her photographs and often uses Paper negative prints.

Most of the images are from the Miss Milligan and La Belle Lucie, at the dance series

"I chose the title for the series once it was finished, so the title doesn’t describe the images, it only gives a sense of them.

Miss Milligan and La Belle Lucie are the names of solitaire card games and I just like the sound of them; it seemed to me that many of the figures in these pictures were engaged in a dance, about to join in, or maybe just watching one."

"In the work I have been doing since I started Train Time Is Any Time, I have been exploring a number of different techniques which for the most part involve 'printthroughs' or paper Paper negatives. Reverse prints, photocopies, cliché verre, drawing and painting on paper Paper negatives ­ these present new and fascinating way of fabricating imagery. I also have an appealing new company of 'actors' created by rearranging heads and bodies of dolls resulting in strange mutant personalities. This is a work in progress ­ the beginning of an exploration into new imaginative worlds." Quotation by Gabrielle de Montmollin

A Review of Gabrielle de Montmollin's work by Larry Davis, Profotos

"The surrealistic world of Gabrielle de Montmollin's photography can be likened to a fiction novel, which in some strange way has become a reality in itself. Gabrielle's depictions of dolls is one of the most elaborate concoctions of actual reality our staff has ever seen at Profotos.

Lying beneath the surface of Gabrielle's creations is an alternate dimension of mysterious, and often haunting emotions and ideas. While Gabrielle composes her images to evoke certain ideas and thought patterns in her viewers' minds, her images open a world of ideas to the viewer, which allows them to draw their own conclusions about the content of her works. This subconscious process within the viewer's mind is an incredible facet within Gabrielle's photography, which is very difficult to duplicate.

The mastery of Gabrielle's work is something many photographers and artists strive to achieve. This level of conscious and unconscious image creation is realized by very few artists - Gabrielle is one of these artists whose creations have achieved this goal.

Let your mind roam freely as you review Gabrielle's portfolio - your subconscious will open up to new realities and dimensions of actual reality. The realm of philosophical and theoretical ideas is yours for the taking... " (Larry Davis, Profotos)

Bird Women

"Bird Woman is an overview of the most recent work of Gabrielle de Montmollin.

It marks a new step in her work: the images are more sober but still keep the dynamism so typical for her images.

I like to compare these photos to a classical Greek play. First you have the presentation of the characters and then you have the play. In this set of pictures you have the presentation of five mythical actors with masks. The movement of the characters inspire the spectator to make his own play.

The strong figures are dancing a mythical dance which is accentuated by the bird-mask. They are strong images that are like icons.

Now it's waiting to the first act of the play.

On this website we present three different approaches of photographing dolls and mannequins.

I asked Gabrielle de Montmollin her view on the subject:

A form of consciousness

In the earliest times humans believed that souls or spirits existed in every object, even if it was inanimate. From this, it was a small jump of intuition to think that if you fashioned a human-like object it could possess the soul of ancestors or beings with supernatural powers who might act on your behalf. The mystical belief in the power of effigies continues to this day. Modern dolls, made of plastic, and manufactured by the millions can cast a similar spell. It is not hard to think that they possess lives of their own and are the repositories of unknown consciousness.

A child playing with a doll also attributes a personality to it. I think many children play with dolls in subversive and perverse ways, they do not limit themselves to what is intended by the manufacturer or the society that produced the object. Store mannequins are meant to display clothes, in a naked state they invite us see them as different beings.

Because I make photographs rather than drawings the figures which appear in my photographs are physical objects that have existed in time. This is very important. Even if I have taken an object and transformed it so that it represents something I have imagined, the object still has an existence independent of my imagination and the image I make of it. This adds to the power of it, the fact that it is Oreal.¹

In 'The Psychology of Imagination' Sartre describes an image as a form of consciousness whereby something that is absent is nonetheless present to our consciousness. It is the absent something which is nonetheless there that I am looking for when I pose the dolls and click the shutter.

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