The mirror is a symbol deeply rooted in the history of art and literature. Readers might be reminded of the so-called “magic mirror” in featured in Disney’s Snow White (1937), for example, or Oscar Wilde’s age-defying object in The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890). Alice travelled Through the Looking Glass in 1871, whilst Sylvia Plath wrote poetry from its perspective in the 1960s: “Whatever I see I swallow immediately.”
Émilie Möri (b. 1978) is a French-Swiss photographer and art director working within this tradition. The shades of my lake’s sky series shows figures dressed in black standing in pale blue water, holding circular mirrors in front of their faces. As pastel clouds bounce off each frame, it’s as if Plath’s words have come to life: “Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, / Searching my reaches for what she really is.”
Reflections appear time and again in surrealist works of art. René Magritte’s (1898-1976) Not to Be Reproduced (1937), shows a sinister reproduction of the back of a man’s head, and The False Mirror (1929), depicts a large, unblinking eye filled with a skyscape. Möri cites Magritte amongst her inspirations; the Dream on Light series, for example, employs similarly uncanny juxtapositions of objects, colours and shadows. Pictured at the top of the page is one such shot, in which an elongated figure looks out to sea.
Architecture is another key element of Möri’s visual world. Pastel and monochrome geometries set the stage for works like Comfort Zone, shown here, which is a self-portrait rooted in ideas of personal growth and progress. “Here I come back to a staircase on which I made many graphic pictures – this time 10 years later, with my cat. Observing the past, I look forward to the future.” Light floods the right hand side of the composition, as birds circle overhead. These intimate, introspective works are made in parallel to commercial creations for advertising agencies, publishing houses, major brands and magazines.
All images courtesy Émilie Möri.
1. The shades of my lake’s sky
3. The shades of my lake’s sky
4. Comfort Zone
5. The shades of my lake’s sky