St Jean de Luz, France

- Marie Schuller

mother bought a house in the South of France. The stormy Atlantic side, not the Cote d’Azur. She got the keys a few days before lockdown, leading to an unexpected four months in total solitude, armed with nothing but a small suitcase of weather inappropri­ate clothing. The house is large, abandoned, gutted of its interiors apart from the remains of the quaint Sixties decor throughout. It’s an eerie ghostly place with its heyday placed in the past. Someone must have been proud of those candy coloured bathroom suites a long time ago. Two Dobermans who at one point guarded the residence have shredded the patterned fabric wallpaper into pieces. Some heavy furniture left faded markings on the old carpet, creating an imprint of the house’s former interior. There’s a fire pit in the garden with the charred remains of things that look mildly suspicious. The house is ready to be stripped back, destroyed, renewed and rebuilt. To our surprise my mother loved being alone in the house.

She made friends with a nest of newly hatched birds (who all died with the first summer storm), and a deranged old cat (who survived so far), and doesn’t seem to miss us, or human beings in general. Once the lockdown eased, I went to see her, and photograph her. We started making images around her new house, playing around and generally hanging out with not much of a plan. But these documentar­y-driven pictures are mixed with performati­ve images, using fashion as a transforma­tive energy that rendered my mother into various characters far removed from her real self. She became the witch in the creepy house, the cougar, the mafia heiress and the Hitchcock heroine

 ??  ?? mother bought a house
mother bought a house

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