La Sienne Oddites

Aimex Mon Amour or L’Inconnue de la Senie 2014
(Love MY Love or the Unknown Woman of the Seine)

In the late 1880s the body of a woman was pulled out of the River Seine at the Quai du Louvre in Paris, France. There were no signs of violence, and her death was considered a suicide.

At that time, the bodies of the unknown people who died were laid out at the Paris morgue in a chilled room fronted by a window so passersby could possibly identify any of the deceased. To this day the identity of this young woman has not been discovered. The Pathologist at the morgue was said to so taken with her beauty that he had a death mask made of her face. Years later from this mask her age had been estimated to have been 16.

In the early 1900s in Paris. France and most of Europe hundreds of copies were made of this death mask and became “a fashionable morbid fixture in Parisian Bohemian Society.”

The popularity of her has intrigued historians, artists, and others who have written about her in dozens of novels, plays, stories, and poems. In the late 1950s a Norwegian toymaker, Asmund S. Laerdal who years before had been moved by her story, was asked to make the first CPR dummy for Dr. Peter Safar which he made from a copy of the death mask. She is said to be the most kissed face of all time.

To this day she continues to be an enigma to all who see and hear about her. In this, we become the Oddities, as you first glance at her face it will erase any thoughts of morbidity. We cannot help ourselves when we see that which we think is beautiful, no matter how macabre it may sound to others.

My piece reflects my own professed oddity and fascination with her and her short life. I have tried to piece together objects from her time period giving you the other oddity, a way to create your own thoughts or story of who she was, how she lived and why she left this world the way she did . . . but forever immortalized by our own odd curiosity.

L'Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine)