Nathalie Leger, Amanda DeMarco, Cecile Menon
Everything can be exhibited: trinkets from the Second French Empire, a collection of photographs, a boudoir from beyond the grave, a heroine famous for her beauty, her extravagance and her pitiful end.
Everything can be exposed: a woman for another woman… , the fear of one’s own body, a way of entering a scene, the thrill of seduction, abandonment, the reassurance of objects, a ruin.
Over the course of four decades, the Countess Virginia Oldoini returned to the same Paris studio to be photographed, posing in different tableaux to mark the moments of her life, real and imagined. A fascination with ‘La Castiglione’ led Nathalie Leger to weave together this imaginative
proto-biography. Mysterious yet over-exposed, adored and despised for her beauty in equal measure, Castiglione was a flamboyant aristocrat, mistress of Napoleon III and a rumoured spy. Examining the myths around icons past and present, Leger meditates on the half-truths of portrait photography, reframing her own family history in the process.
`A tour de force' (Natasha Lehrer). `A subtle novel that explores femininity and its magic spells. Bewitching.'(Vogue). `Highbrow but highly readable; delving deep yet luminous'(...) Through artistic evocation, stream of conciousness, historical detail and personal memory, the author guides us into a world where images become the masks of the real.'(Elle). `Tightly controlled and clear-sighted [...] `a superb study.' (La Croix). `In Nathalie Leger's magnificent text, everything is turned on its head, everything is paradox [...] L'Exposition is the fragile and dangerous attempt to reconstitue the self, to seek, in the secret of another woman - in the insane dramatisation of her silence - the very thing that eludes us within ourselves. Thus it is the ellipsis (the blanks between the fragments) that gives L'exposition its beauty and its truthfulness. A bewitching self-portrait.'(Les Inrockuptibles). `Nathalie Leger brings Castiglione back to life with grace, style and taste.' (Cultures Livres). 'But just as much as we learn facts, consider rumours and encounter mysteries in the life of Castiglione, the figure that slowly comes to prominence is the narrator herself. What Leger proves to her reader is that within every biography there is autobiography. This is a highly stylised, highly self-reflexive, highly Woolfian biography that reveals as much about the identity and obsessions of its narrator as it does about the Countess.' (The Arts Desk)
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