Words by Éloïse Armary
Alice Pierre is a photographer-writer, she was born and raised in Paris, studied Photography in Montreal, and is finishing her MA in Creative Writing here in Brighton. She launched her first online exhibition ‘Write Me a Novel’ accessible on writemeanovel.com. I was one of the models for the exhibition and I am sharing with you an insight into the making of her multi-faceted project.
Did you intend the viewer to read the words written on the body?
I think it’s rather important that they read, but it stays art photography, so it’s a mix. When you look at the pictures, there will be some which you won’t be able to read at all. It will be impossible to read an entire sentence on the body because it probably goes around twice. You will have two bits of the story, the beginning and the end of the sentence. A lot of imagination is left to the viewer. That is I think the beauty of this project, they aren’t pictures you look at only once, you come back to them. I mentioned in the ‘behind the scenes’ part of the exhibition that we hid some words that had nothing to do with the story, it gives a little the ‘Where is Waldo?’ (laughter)
Why did you want to write your life in the short story?
It was by chance. I really started writing when I came back to France in May 2021. The prompt came because I came back home. The last time I stayed for long was in between Canada and England in April 2019. I was in a Paris that I didn’t really know because of Covid; that closed, that empty. I found myself in front of who I could have been if I didn’t go to Canada, or if I stayed in France after Canada. And at that time, I was furious against my flatmates, they were the reason why I was back in France for two months. It’s how the first character was born. Andréa has French origins, she’s not sure to love them, she’s not French enough, she has a nationality problem. Then I created the second one, who has this glamorous side of Parisian life. Andréa is very close to me; she has all my neurosis! The last one is Adélaïde, my favourite, surely because she is the one I identify with the most. She is the writer. She has a side: ‘I live in my world, on my planet.’ I try to hide this about me, Adélaïde doesn’t hide that.
The three characters developed around Paris. Paris is very important in the short story, Adélaïde says it well in her chapter: ‘Paris is an endless supply of stories to tell, but Paris is also suffocating her’. It’s exactly how I feel about Paris. If you describe this short story, it’s my love-hate relationship with Paris and my love-hate relationship with myself.
What is your message writing on bodies?
I don’t know if I really have a message, at first, I did it because I found that funny! I thought I would have fun and on top it looks pretty!
I think there is the idea to make literature more accessible. We see that fewer and fewer people read, or they listen to audiobooks. The pleasure of reading is getting lost a little bit. Of course, it’s not a book, it’s the opposite. In a certain way, we give literature another support.
There is a body positivity side. There isn’t an over-sexualization of the body. You are in underwear, but they disappear behind the writings. In a way, every chapter became like a cloth. And I want the viewer to think: ‘Wow, everything we can do with the human body! In fact, my body is a work of art. Simply, I am a work of art!’
Is there an artist who inspires you?
Patty Smith. She’s an American artist who started as a poet while she was the muse of the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, a great American artist. He advised her to sing her poems. From here she became a Rock singer.
Then she became a writer, she wrote a book called ‘Just Kids’. All her novels are autobiographical, yet it feels like you are wandering in a dream. She uses a lot of visuals, she describes a lot what she sees, what she hears, what she smells. Often in her books, she includes photography. Everything seems very natural with her, she writes what is close to her, and I really like that. The first time I discovered her, it’s because my mother and my father listened to her on Vinyl.
Where to see the exhibition: writemeanovel.com
To see more of Alice’s work: