2017 Sep 07

Surrealist scenes with Estelle Hanania

French photographer Estelle Hanania has a unique talent of creating uncanny and compelling imagery. With anthropomorphised figures and otherworldly scenes, the work of Hanania pulls from the depths of our subconscious.

Words by Emma Harrison
Photographs by Estelle Hanania

A graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Paris, French photographer Estelle Hanania has a unique talent of creating uncanny and compelling imagery. Her work carefully treads the line between experimental fashion photography and surrealism by looking closely at ideas of disguise and evoking mysterious and fantastical elements.

Hanania won the photo prize at the 2006 Hyères Festival and since then her photographs have appeared in publications such as Another magazine, New York Times and Dazed & Confused. Despite this commercial success, there remains a raw and unsettling element to her work, with series such as the editorial for Lurve magazine (2014) and Familial (2016) drawing upon Freudian ideas of doubles and doppelgängers. The pairings, reflections and enlarged mirror images create the kind of mysticism and uncanny tropes most often found in surrealist visualisations of unconscious desires.

Her work carefully treads the line between experimental fashion photography and surrealism.

Although disguise is a central theme of her work, Hanania’s brand of surrealism is most clearly depicted in the playful, Magritte-esque series Man (2014). Shot on a beach, the errant tailoring and anthropomorphised silhouettes with oversized beaks appear like figures pulled from the depths of our subconscious. The misty beach setting appears suspended between the sky and the earth and allows the series to convey an otherworldly atmosphere; it is as if these creatures are comfortably at home in their supernatural habitat.

Hanania’s images and cult aesthetic have lead to commissions from fashion brands including Maison Martin Margiela, Véronique Leroy and Hermès. Hanania’s work has also been collected into five books, and she been the subject of both group and solo shows internationally.

We attached two more portraits from Hananias series ‘Kinship’ (first image; last image on the right).