Martine Malle’s Lost Girls
Published April 27, 2010
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
“She’s like my second mother,” says Lola Schnabel of Martine Malle, who’s been best friends with Jacqueline Schnabel since the two were kids in Belgium. “She also took photos of me as a kid as well and I guess we’ve been playing dress up since I was four or five.” As such, Schnabel has repeatedly asked Malle to take stills on the sets of her films, including the short within her father’s seminal concert doc Lou Reed’s Berlin and her 12-minute Le Bal des Ardents about Charles XIV dressing up as a caveman for his 14th birthday, where his brother and his friends set him on fire. “I got a whole cast of children from 7 to 14 and we staged this ball for them, so that’s where the pictures come from,” adds Schnabel. “I think her portraits of children are just really, really soft and you wonder if there’s a seven year-old trapped inside her body. I think that’s why these images look so natural.”
Now, Malle is taking four large-scale images from the Les Bals and exhibiting them alongside a suite of 10 new digital shots (taken between 2008 and 2009) of her daughter, Jade Berreau, on Long Island with Jade’s daughter Secret (whose father is the late Dash Snow) as part exhibition, The Lost Virgins of Gabriel, bowing tonight at Soho’s Ennagon Gallery. “When I do a show I look at things I’ve photographed for years, then I put up a story,” says Malle, noting the narrative in the 14-piece color exhibition is loosely based on Gabriel (also a character in Schnabel’s film) and the virgins he visited who weren’t as blessed as Mary. “They were forgotten and lost and lost in the world,” she adds. Her moody images depict angels and virgins in various states of decadence (think paint-smeared angels with tattered wings) on the beaches of St. Barth’s and the countryside in the Hamptons, and are meant to create the feeling of “being a woman alone in the world.” For her daughter and granddaughter, this brave new existence was evoked with red and white paint that was applied to their skin by Martine before she shot them walking in the woods. “I was hoping to make it like blood on their body and hopefully people are going to see that,” says Malle, who also digitally tinted the photos to heighten their mood. “I was very much in tune with black and white, and still am, but I wanted to experiment with digital, and now I love it. I really, really love it.”
THE LOST VIRGINS OF GABRIEL OPENS TONIGHT, 6–9 PM. ENNAGON GALLERY IS LOCATED AT 50 GREENE STREET, NEW YORK.