Women in Photography 2017 Exhibition
Ilona and Maddelena | Sandra Mehl

I first met Ilona and Maddelena, two sisters aged 12 and 11, in July 2015, as they were walking their dogs in their working class neighborhood, the Cité Gély, next to the city center of Montpellier, in the south of France. I started to talk to them and quickly got invited into their daily life. In their 80 square meter apartment, they live with their parents Françoise and Thierry, Maddelena’s uncle Etienne, a pair of dogs and cats, and a multitude of objects making a reference to the Native Americans or Johnny Hallyday, a famous French singer.

Through this long-term project, I’d like to talk about growing up as a teenager with a working class background and in a developed country like France. I am captivated by the fragility and the resistance that is reflected even at that age and with that social background. After we first met, I understood that I would follow them and no one else: deep in my own memory, I can picture myself at the same age.

About Sandra Mehl
A graduate of Sciences Po Paris and Ehess in sociology, I worked in humanitarian and urban development before devoting myself to documentary photography. I am interested in questions of territories and identities in France and abroad. In 2009, I began a documentary photography project in Israel / Palestine on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (“Checkpoint Chronicle”). This project was finalist in the Roger Pic de la Scam Prize in 2016.

My photographic work then became more intimate, as I was interested in issues of social belonging and mobility in popular circles, building on my own life trajectory. I worked for five years on the lagoon areas of the South of France (ps: I write to you from the beach of Les Mouettes) and later on the urban territory, documenting the daily intimacy of two adolescent sisters of the Cité Gély of Montpellier (Ilona and Maddelena). This last series is the winner of the 2016 Talent Award and the Prix du Festival MAP Toulouse 2016.

In parallel to my personal photographic projects, I work for the French press (Le Monde, Libération, Courrier International, L’Obs, Le Monde diplomatique, Marie Claire, Mediapart, La Vie, Le Parisien magazine, Jdd) and foreign publications (Internazionale, Financial Times Weeend magazine, De Morgen, Vision magazine China).

Women in Film & Photography Showcase Programme
:: Women in Photography Exhibition: 13 Oct to 19 Nov
:: Guided photographer & curator tour: 13 Oct, Fri, 230pm to 330pm

:: Panel Discussion – Woman Photographer: 13 Oct, Fri, 730pm to 9pm
:: Artist talks: 14 Oct, Sat, 2pm to 430pm
:: Slideshow Projection featuring Asian Women Photographers’ Showcase: 15 Nov, Wed, 730pm to 830pm
:: Women in Film 2017 (19 to 28 Oct)