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Exhibition “Life Ahead” at Quai de la Photo

Presented by Spéos, in partnership with Quai de la Photo and as part of the Biennale of Photography of the 13th arrondissement of Paris City Hall, Polka Galerie and its Factory present the works of two photographers, Janine Niépce and Emma Ball-Greene, in the exhibition entitled “Life Ahead”.

The theme of this year’s Biennale being “Childhood, Adolescence, and Youth”, it is youth in the broad sense that Polka aims to celebrate with these two artists. From March 27 to May 27, 2024, come and discover a selection of around sixty images showcased on the two levels of Quai de la Photo.

About the Exhibition

Although the paths of Janine Niépce and Emma Ball-Greene never crossed, their photographs share a spontaneous and direct style that reveals unique perspectives on youth, a fertile period of self-discovery, of others, and of the world.

As a major figure in French photography, Janine Niépce captured the evolutions of life throughout the second half of the 20th century, especially that of young people, from childhood to adolescence. Through her lens, she captured interactions, games, fashions, hopes, dreams, but also the demands and concerns of the youngest. According to Hélène Jaeger-Defaix, granddaughter of Janine Niépce and custodian of her archives, “nothing escaped her benevolent eye, always seeking spontaneity. With children, Janine managed to engage, enjoying their language, showing interest in their drawings, their rhymes, their daydreams. One had to be clever to prevent them from freezing, from posing, and to continue their activities naturally. Janine always spoke of her trust in future generations and their ability to change the world.”

For Emma Ball-Greene, youth is a period of intense transition, marked by profound physical and emotional changes. Her intimate photographs reflect this complexity, offering a personal perspective on her own experience of youth. Through her lens, she explores the nuances of femininity in transition, combining the maturity of adulthood with the lightness and carefreeness of childhood.

Exhibition Curators: This exhibition is orchestrated by Dimitri Beck of Polka and Victor Moullin of Polka Factory. Two women, two generations. Two women, two distinct yet complementary artistic visions of youth, presented with sensitivity and authenticity.

About Janine Niépce

A distant relative of the inventor of photography, Nicéphore Niépce, Janine Niépce is one of the first French female photojournalists. Born in 1921 into a family of Burgundian winemakers who later transitioned to aircraft manufacturing, then to cinema set design, she joined the Resistance before pursuing studies in art and archaeology, eventually becoming passionate about photography. The year 1946 marked her entry into the world of professional photography. Influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who gave her valuable advice to become a photojournalist, she joined Rapho in 1955.

Her photos trace, in the second half of the 20th century, 50 years of evolution in the condition of women, from a disappearing agricultural life to May 1968, through the carefree period of the “Trente Glorieuses” (thirty years of economic growth following World War II). A feminist, she participated from the 1950s in the foundation of the Family Planning Movement. Janine Niépce chose to capture in black and white ordinary people and their daily lives, a work that brought her closer to Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis. “My grandmother’s great work is the systematic documentation of women’s lives,” says her granddaughter, Hélène Jaeger-Defaix, custodian of her archives. Janine Niépce was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1981, and a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1985. She died in 2007 in Paris at the age of 86.

About Emma Ball-Greene

Franco-British photographer Emma Ball-Greene is based in Berlin. Born in 1996, she is particularly interested in youth and intimate spheres. Her committed approach seeks to arouse curiosity and raise awareness about the condition of modern women and human rights issues. Her multifaceted work can be placed as much in the documentary tradition as in the field of fashion.

At a time when women’s voices are in the spotlight, society continues to impose stereotyped and devaluing visions: lack of confidence and superficiality. This observation prompted Emma Ball-Greene to articulate her work around this paradox: how is it that today’s women, much freer than their predecessors, are still represented with less confidence and courage than previous generations?

Practical Information

  • Opening: Wednesday, March 27th from 6 p.m. onwards.
  • Location: Exhibition Hall of Quai de la Photo, 9 Port de la Gare, 75013 Paris.

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