Her uneven trajectory reflects, with a careful look, what's incomprehensible in a woman's soul. Even before her first exhibit, in 1975, the French photographer Irinia Ionesco had already got the attention of a particular group of artists; but her paradoxal success and acclaim would come with her biggest scandal; the exhibit Eloge de Ma Fille would enter the Nikon gallery in Paris and it was that same fetishist look, now turned towards her, Eva Ionesco... from the age of 5 to the age of 10, in erotic essays.
According to Irina, the proposal for this series of photos came from Eva herself; those were, without a doubt, much different times, it was a time of search for acceptance and sexual freedom, of freedom of the body. As a woman and an artist of her time, it didn't seem strange to the artist that Eva would also be the target of symbolic photographs and that she would be portrayed like other adult women, in front of Irina's camera.
The dates differ - some speak of 4 to 11 years old, others of 5 to 10; we'll just stick to the second possibility, because it's the most commonly found - what's important is that the artist, year after year, used her daughter as a model for her bold black and white pictures. Even bolder than most of her other obcessive pictures, much bolder. Eva appears in nudes, but the effect is just as terrifying when she appears clothed, how come? It's intriguing.
Thus the girl, Eva appears as a woman-child in the same sombre atmosphere, adorned with dozens of jewellery, cheap bijouterie, artefacts that speak of this particular world where delirium, death, sensuality and passion walk hand in hand. It could almost be a myth... But Eva was and is real: the shock was inevitable. The artistic community and public opinion, both, turned massively against Irina. The first - that had already dismissed her work as tasteless - considered this collection the pinnacle of absurdity, simply artless. The public, as was already expected, accused her of an obvious lack of morality.
None of this, logically, would stop Eloge de ma fille from entering the history of photography and eroticism. Even to this day, a time of such intense traffic of pedophile material, a time when our vision isn't clear when it comes to certain fascinating aspects of the bizarre and cruel, the photos Irina took of her daughter remained filled with the same concept, the same search for the nature of being a woman, seen through the years that pass through Eva and reveal her as, or more, terrible (meaning amazing) as Nobokov's Lolita.
Below are a few examples of Irina Ionesco's masterpiece, to be left at the reader's interpretation, shock, pain, absolution or growth.
There is a lot more to be said, reflected upon and debated about Ionesco's work - that is still growing. One or two articles is certainly not enough, aside from my limited knowledge of such mystical works. But to those who are interested in it, Eloge de ma Fille is today a coffee-table book, published by Alice Press (first edition: 2004).
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