05 Jun LAUREN 1/2
At Lauren’s, books are everywhere. A special mention goes, however, to the big bookcase in the living room. Close to her bed stands a little personal “pantheon”: “Here are the books that inspire me. I believe a lot in the energy of books. When you take a book in your hands you can know what it’ll bring you.” A first glance at the books that she prepares for our encounter reveals that there are only female authors. Her explanation: “For the last two years, I have been reading only women. I felt a need to be fed by stories and voices of women for my own political and personal reflection.” She therefore did a big clean-up in her readings. Only three male writers survived: two French authors (Tristan Garcia and Jean-Philippe Toussaint) and Henry Miller (“My favourite author ever. Sexus is a book that has been by my side for years and I couldn’t give it away. I find in it a necessary disorientation.”)
This attraction for women’s voices and stories led Lauren, who is a journalist, to create her podcast series, La Poudre. Twice a month, she interviews a wonderful woman – artist, intellectual, politician, etc. – for a personal and open conversation about her childhood, her career and her relationship to femininity.
“La Poudre was born from several encounters” explains Lauren. One of the most important is with Sylvia Plath. “I discovered her through her diary and was immediately gripped by her story, a terrible story of sexism.” Nelly Bly, an American journalist, pioneer in investigative journalism, is also mentioned. Other women and other stories are important too: Violette Leduc, Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozu Adichie, the author of Americanah. “A must read! It tells the story of a Nigerian woman who discovers that she is black when she arrives in a white country. It is also about the awakening of a political conscience.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Wallpaper about a woman considered to be crazy and the more she is locked up, the more she goes crazy. It says a lot about masculine oppression.” And Joan Didion: “I am very moved by the way she talks about how women age and about widowhood. To talk about these subjects is so necessary because these are the kind of topics that tend to be invisible.” The idea of La Poudre is here: “Every story of woman deserves to be recorded because History and society make them invisible.”
The Dinner Party
“I found a beautiful echo in this question of invisibility in a masterpiece at the Brooklyn Museum: The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago” explains Lauren, showing us a book she brought back from New York. It is an artwork installation made of 39 elaborate place settings arranged along a triangular table for 39 mythical and historical women who have been, most of the time, totally forgotten. When she discovered Judy Chicago’s work, Lauren had a kind of Stendhal shock. “With The Dinner Party, she says that our society is designed so that women will not become famous. Every time a woman achieves something, history deletes her trace.”
Photo credit for Lauren’s portrait: Zisla Tortello. Thanks a lot Zisla!