by: Nathalie Leger
Exposition by Nathalie Léger, translated by Amanda DeMarco / ISBN 9781948980036 / 160-page paperback from Dorothy Project
First sentence: "Surrender, premeditate nothing, want nothing, neither discern nor dissect nor stare, but rather shift, dodge, lose focus, and--slowing down--consider the only material that presents itself, as it presents itself, in its disorder and even in its order."
Exposition is the first in a triptych of books by the award-winning writer and archivist Nathalie Léger that includes Suite for Barbara Loden and The White Dress. In each, Léger sets the story of a female artist against the background of her own life and research—an archivist’s journey into the self, into the lives that history hides from us. Here, Léger’s subject is the Countess of Castiglione (1837–1899), who at the dawn of photography dedicated herself to becoming the most photographed woman in the world, modeling for hundreds of photos, including “Scherzo di Follia,” among the most famous in history. Set long before our own “selfie” age, Exposition is a remarkably modern investigation into the curses of beauty, fame, vanity, and age, as well as the obsessive drive to control and commodify one’s image.
Nathalie Léger is the award-winning author of Suite for Barbara Loden and The White Dress, as well as an editor and archivist. She has curated exhibitions on Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett for the Centre Pompidou, and is Director of the Institut Mémoires de l’Édition Contemporaine, an organization dedicated to preserving the archives of modern French writers.