In twenty years of a very personal photographic career, Fernande Petitdemange has patiently built up her cabinet of curiosities on the model of those of the 16th and 17th centuries. A microcosm of the three kingdoms – animal, vegetable and mineral – alongside human productions, her work is presented as a huge album of memories of her encounters. Like the curious people of the Renaissance, she is seduced by the accidental, the phenomena of transition, the ambiguity, the human part of minerals or plants, the objects carrying a meaning and diverted from their initial function, lowering the borders between the different kingdoms, contributing to their interpenetration.
If Fernande shares their taste for heteroclism and the strange, she saves from oblivion and chaos not what is beautiful, rare or extraordinary, but what is considered as the insignificant fragments of a world, made invisible by their banality.
She invented the modern cabinet of curiosities where the residue becomes preponderant and precious, projected forward in contrast to the unreal white background of the photographic medium. It appears like an icon without shadow, floating in the case of this immaterial space.
With the collector’s rigour, she gives each subject the same treatment, the same look, the same lack of colour and an identical photographic format. There is no more scale, time or value. Each integrates with the other, yet each asserts its own particularity and individuality, the photograph becoming the evidence of their existence.
Extract from the text by Frédérique Goerig-Hergott, Les âmes silencieuses, 1991-2007, éditions Carré d’Art, 2007