The Dwarf Empire / Sanne de Wilde
Le petit espace, 15 rue Bouchardon, Paris, France | Event date > from: 22-05-2014 to: 11-07-2014 | Opening hours: tuesday to saturday 14:30 to 19 | Official Website www.lepetitespace.com
In southern China, near Kunming -the city of eternal spring- exists a theme park that is home to 77 little people. The young belgian photographer Sanne de Wilde shows us their incredible world.
[T]he inhabitants present a song-and-dance show twice a day. This promised land was founded by a tall, rich man who was determined to ‘do something good’ for the little people. Chinese charity dressed in commercial attire. I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercialising social care. Every story has two sides but in this place every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my making, and theirs. My own trick forced upon myself.”
Sanne de Wilde’s work does not provide an answer to our perception of the other but thanks to the interplay between the different aspects of her approach, and cultural references – Tod Browning’s Freaks, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, reality television – enables a modern, globalised reflection on the notions of spectacle, appearance and voyeurism.
The first question Western viewers ask de Wilde about her work is “Are they happy?” – a question for which she has no answer, and which is above all a reflection of the situation of the onlooker, as if knowing whether the dwarfs are happy is an excuse for the scrutiny that they and the park they live in come under. How should we look at images produced within such a structure, that some have called a human zoo? Where does the show begin, and where does it end? Sanne de Wilde’s photographic work consists of separate parts that complete one another.
Submitted by Carine Dolek