contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / January 2022

Allez viens ! on part en vacances.
(Come on! we are going on holiday.)
(Series Holidays)
Amélie Viale

Print on dibond
60 cm x 90 cm
Edition of 8 + 2 P.A.

A young woman stands in a deserted marshalling yard. She has an unusual companion: an iron. Pausing on a rail crossing, she holds the iron cable in her hands. The iron itself stands on the gravel ground, directed opposite to her. Due to the blue sky and her clothing – a striped summer dress and sandals – it seem to be a hot day. This impression is underlined by the stony soil with sparse vegetation. Only in the left background are some green bushes. Behind the protagonist run railway tracks in direction of the image centre. Two freight cars are standing nearly in the midpoint, another one is right from her. Are they waiting for their onward journey or is it a railway siding?

The photo “Allez viens ! on part en vacances.” (Come on! we are going on holiday.) by the French artist Amélie Viale is part of her series “Holidays” from 2014. And in fact, the summerly atmosphere and the trains recall the period of vacation. On the contrary, the actual situation in a marshalling yard refers to work or even standstill. The opposite movement between the woman and the iron reflects this stagnancy. Her posture is directed to the right image border. Only her head is turned backwards and she is dragging at the cable as one pulls the leash of a stubborn dog. Accordingly, the cord is stretched diagonally from her right hand to the iron on the ground. Hence, the impression that the household appliance is pulling on the cable. Thus, the strange couple is blocked in their movements. As the title indicates, the woman wants to go on tour and seemingly, the iron is hindering her. Why has she taken the iron with her? Is there a need to take an iron on holidays?

In her series “Holidays” Amélie Viale shows women with the domestic device in uncommon situations. Hereby she is questioning if refusing to iron is an emancipatory act, or a sign of culpable irresponsibility. In a wider sense, she enquires about the intended female role in the society. Is it permitted that a woman leaves her traditional place for leisure? With an ironic glance, she documents a misuse of the appliance. Despite the misappropriation, the iron remains stubborn and wants the woman back home. The interpretation of the freight cars as sign for work would hint to the female work in the household. On the other hand, there is the immobility of the perhaps decommissioned wagons and in the movement between woman and iron. This might hint to a stagnation in the progress of gender equality. At the same time, the in the distance directed tracks could talk about a possible start into a new era.

Since in Amélie’s work she handles with personal experience and her individual confrontation with problematics in life, it is not surprising that the woman with the iron is herself. In this sense, the photo might refer to her inner troubles. Is she trying to break out of the intended female role? Is she in conflict with herself, weather if or how she could change the predefined position? Has she yet decided not to fulfil the traditional expectations? Does the standstill indicate an inner struggle? Or is it even the symbolisation of an external fight between individual and society?


Amélie Viale

Born in 1982 in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France, Amélie Viale studied applied art and interior design in Lyon. During this education, she specialised in computer graphics. Until 2019, she worked as graphic designer, but at the same time further developed her artistic oeuvre and started to expose her works. Since then, she dedicates herself completely to visual art with a focus on photography, performance and installation.

In her work, Amélie reflects on her personal experience. Thus, she is often the main protagonist in her oeuvres. A starting point for this strategy is the series “Holidays” from 2014, where she photographed herself with an iron at the marshalling yard of Fos Coussoul in Fos-sur-Mer, France. In doing so, she questions the influence of domestic work on the female emancipation. The photo “Allez viens ! on part en vacances.” (Come on! we are going on holiday.) from this series is our artwork of the month in January 2022.

Subsequently, Amélie inquired inter alia about her feelings after a passed relationship, motherhood and her efforts to do unpleasant tasks. Her travels and residencies influence her research about the significance of femininity for herself and in the society. During her residence at the island of Groix she integrated the landscape and the discovered traces of civilisation. A performance with a fire at the beach was the conclusive intervention. Travelling alone through Poland, she photographed herself in the hotel rooms where she stayed. The outcome of her investigation was on view in many personal and group exhibitions, mainly in France, but also in Italy, Belgium and Canada. Her next solo show “Vous Voyagez seule ?” (Are you traveling alone?) opens at the 6th of January 2022 in the Galerie ARti in Marseille, France.

Amélie lives and works in Lissieu, France.