National Narrative

Elisa Moris Vai

This installation aims to reflect on the space that is left in the current french society for the descendents of slaves. Mixing documentary and fiction, the artist, a french white female, started to work from18th century paintings depicting the families of ship owners and industrialists that grew wealthy through slave trade and slavery. These portraits are currently in numerous fine arts museums in France. Considering that the wealth appearing on them was stolen, Elisa Moris Vai asked young slaves’ descendents thanks to a classified ad to pose in the style of the paintings. Creating in this way fictionnal pictures, the work questions the legitimacy of that wealth. That part blends with contemporary video pieces in which the same people stare at the spectator, giving a personal statement.
Ruddy, Maëla, Lorenza, Lydie, Léa, Jérôme, Claude, Dimitri, Leïla and Christelle are young, committed, talented. They are France.

Artist biography

Elisa Moris Vai is a french photographer born in 1988. She obtained a MA (hon) of Performing Arts from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, before shifting to photography. At the intersection between documentary and fiction, her work deals with History, memory and legacy, often interweaving individual and collective levels. She uses a wide range of mediums to develop long term projects focused on people and territories close to her heart.
Group Shows:
Atlas des Bords, dir. Florent Meng, Centre Photographique d'Ile de France, Pontault Combault, France, september 2020
Futurama, Noorderlicht Festival, Netherlands, 2020