Ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art (Merriam-Webster)
For this creative adventure we decided to take a classic Paris activity–a museum visit– and get something more out of it than just looking at some pretty art. We asked ourselves:
How do we best engage with a museum? How do we really get impacted and inspired by it? How do we really feel a work of art?
Prompt: Pick a museum with an exhibition that interests you or somewhere you’ve never been. Take some time to explore and notice what artworks jump out at you, instead of scanning through the entire exhibit. Try to sit with the work of art that speaks to you most for 20 minutes or more and let your mind wander. If feeling inspired, take it a level further and pull out a notebook. Sketch the painting or simply write free-associations that come to mind, something you could turn back to later as a seed for a poem or short story.
Our creative adventure: We chose to visit the Maison Européean de la Photographie (MEP) located in the Marais in an 18th century mansion. Their current exposition is a retrospective of French photographer Bettina Rheims. Her work deals with themes of femininity, beauty, sexuality and often features well known female celebrities.
My favorite photograph was one of an empty motel room. I think I was most drawn to it because it was the only photograph in the whole exposition that did not feature a person, and I tend to stay away from portraits in my own photography practice just out of personal preference.
After spending 20 minutes with this photo, I wrote a brief description/analysis, and reflection on what it made me think and feel:
Milla Jovovich, étude “Héroïnes”, Bettina Rheims
Sitting with this photograph for 20 minutes (or standing with it) was harder than I imagined it would be. After a good 5 minutes of staring, I let my mind wander and wrote about the associations I found in the photograph, free-writing instead of trying to structure a poem or story.