Working Assumption – 2003
These photographs are the result of four months spent in Paris, France. I asked male strangers of a variety of professions if I could borrow their clothes and their workspace for about an hour. I found these situations through the yellow pages, by stopping people on the street and by visiting different establishments. I then made appointments to put on their clothes and take a picture of myself in their space. These photographs were an excuse to talk to a lot of different people in hopes of improving my French and working through my fears about personal relations.
The seed of this project lies in my own work experience. I felt an unvoiced pressure to be less emotional and more ambitious. I got it in my head that the expected qualities I lacked were common attributes of the male gender. The statement I formed was “I am capable of learning to do any one of these jobs but not as a man”. The interaction that took place with each person was often made complicated by an unsaid boundary I was choosing to cross. I proposed my project to men and was greeted every time with an uneasy grin. The project became about access, wanting to know about situations I felt blocked from experiencing. The funny thing is I was able to make this project happen because I am a woman, polite, sensitive and pretty. My fears were intensified by my concept of work. I was struck with indecision about what line of work I belong in because I am going to spend most of my waking hours devoted to whatever I choose. I assumed that my choice will determine what my life will be like, who I will know and what I will think. The project is about reconciling my assumptions with a reality outside of myself.
Acknowledgments: Sophie Calle and Jean-Marc Bustamante (École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts), Olivier Bancaud, M. Bourgoin, Dr. Jean-Pierre Auber, Fabrice Antore, Fabien Basset, Pierre Sachet, Emilio Belmonte, François Millot, Daniel Schwobmann, Adrien Delegise, Antoine-Marie Mariani, Jean-Pierre Lavigne, Frederic Chatelain, Vincent Queret, Niko, Philippe Robinson, Alexandra Spunt, Morgan Lackman, Tim Southwood, Fern Breslaw, Bob Bean, Jim and Ann Waldron.