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Capucine, French model and actress on a balcony, Rome. August 1951 © Robert Capa
Capucine, French model and actress on a balcony, Rome. August 1951 © Robert Capa

“Do you want to see my sexy pictures?” Maripol asked Adèle Jancovici, handing her a card box, adding, “No one has seen them. Swear you won’t tell anyone about this.” But silence was not to be, and that which had been kept secret for decades was ready to surface as Maripol and Jancovici joined forces to create Maripola X, the first art edition from Le Livre Art Publishing, which Jancovici founded.

Launched at BookMarc, New York, on Friday, February 7, Maripola X is a collection of Polaroids from the artist’s private collection of work from her earliest days in New York through to the present day. Featuring photographs of Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Pat Cleveland, Steven Meisel, Vincent Gallo, Francesco Clemente, Klaus Nomi, and Joey Arias. Among many others before it, Maripola X is an exquisite guide to the art of seduction.

Many of the photographs are exquisitely risqué, giving us a guided tour into the sexual exploration of a woman deeply comfortable with herself. “I don’t have any shame. I don’t have anything to hide,” Maripol notes. “These pictures are so personal. I might have been angry when I was making them, and put drops of blood on one, or carved the pussy from another. There is a sense of self indulgence that makes this my personal work.”

As Maripol recalls in the book’s introduction, “I got my SX-70 from Edo [Bertoglio] and we both used it. And leather-clad, my Polaroid camera became my girlfriend, my confidant, my spy, my tool, and my secret companion. Nothing was calculated; it as all about the instant. At the same time, I poured my soul on paper. I secretly wrote for years my most intimate thoughts, my joy and sorrows—my poems at the tip of my pen, my life with a pen.”

Maripola X features 69 poems in French and English by the artist; we are allowed to enjoy the words in their native tongue, providing us with insight into the mind and heart of this exquisite soul. “The consecration of an artist is to be published. This is also true for a writer,” Maripol observes, noting that the publication of her poetry is the cherry on top of a career in fashion, jewelry, filmmaking, photography, and books that has spanned four decades.

As Max Blagg writes in the book’s foreword, “These Polaroids are proof of life, proof of ravenous times in which most of them were taken. Still from a film whose subtitles are the urgent, erotic, melodic poems inserted into the heart of this mélange; Maripol’s mix of broken English and Parisian argot à go-go embellishes these images of desire, love, and above all, sex; it’s hasty connections, its urgent requirements, its sticky aftermath. She freezes beauty in mid-step, revealing the eternal in the ephemeral, nothing more instant and ephemeral than a Polaroid, back in those sexed-up decades, when sex meant fucking, not sexting a voracious epoch, powered by all manner of fetid powders and dark chemical concoctions. No one knew how to say no, no one wanted to say no.”

In the words of e.e. cummings, “I believe yes is the only living thing.” We are witness to the power of “Yes” in every whisper, in every scream, in every photograph and every poem of Maripola X, reminding us how beautiful life can be.

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Gilles Verneret

galerie Mathieu 48 Rue Burdeau 69001 Lyon

New York: Adèle Jancovici
Le Livre Art Publishing

“Keeping a secret was never really my thing,” Adèle Jancovici writes in the beginning of Maripola X, the first edition from Le Livre Art Publishing. As publisher, Jancovici collaborates with artists to produce editions in various forms, be it books, prints...