Exteriors: Annie Ernaux and Photography

Lou Stoppard (ed.)



‘Committing to paper the movements, postures, and words of the people I meet gives me the illusion that I am close to them. I don’t speak to them, I only watch them and listen to them. Yet the emotions they arouse in me are real. I may also be trying to discover something about myself through them, their attitudes or their conversations. (Sitting opposite someone in the Métro, I often ask myself, “Why am I not that woman?”)’ Annie Ernaux

Exteriors: Annie Ernaux and Photography brings together the celebrated writing of Annie Ernaux, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, with photographs from Maison Européenne de la Photographie’s collection by photographers including Harry Callahan, Claude Dityvon, Dolorès Marat, Daidō Moriyama, Janine Niépce, Issei Suda, Henry Wessel, and Bernard Pierre Wolff.

Taking Ernaux’s unique artistic endeavour to ‘describe reality as through the eyes of a photographer and to preserve the mystery and opacity of the lives I encountered’, this project by writer and curator Lou Stoppard uncovers the profound ways the written and visual image can inform and inflect on one another. In doing so, it proposes a new way of thinking about literature and photography, and the ways in which shared themes – such as class, travel, social stereotypes, and individual identity within the modern urban environment – might be explored between these two forms.

Accompanies an exhibition at MEP, Paris, opening on 28 February 2024

Silkscreened hardcover with tipped-in image
15 x 21cm, 144 pages

ISBN 978-1-915743-44-2 (English edition)
ISBN 978-1-915743-45-9 (French edition)
March 2024
€35 £30 $40

‘[Lou Stoppard] reminds us that capturing images is at the heart of Ernaux’s style.’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘Ernaux’s book consists of lyrical, fragmented prose that captures encounters on the periphery of our daily lives.’ The Financial Times 

‘A record of moments in trains, shops and streets around Cergy-Pontoise.’ The Los Angeles Review of Books 

‘The inference of pairing Ernaux’s originally slim 74-page Exteriors with this curated selection of photographs from the MEP’s collection is [to examine] this lesser-known publication in photographic terms – extending readings, teasing out connections and re-examining the question of how literature and photography can coexist, and to what end.’ 1000 Words 

‘[Ernaux] looks for something that is not necessarily about a deeper meaning. She just wants to see what there is to see.’ De Groene Amsterdammer

‘The exhibition and accompanying book are an attempt to analyze Annie Ernaux beyond the context of literature.’ Fisheye Magazine  

‘The visual and written language bleeds together, proposing an interdisciplinary way of thinking about literature and photography.’ Aesthetica 

Featured in DAZED 

Featured on Open Book BBC Radio Four

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