Daniel Birnbaum, Sven-Olov Wallenstein
In the fall of 2010, Jessica Warboys discovered photographic portraits of dancer Hélène Vanel in the disused Bibliothèque Smith-Lesouëf, Nogent-sur-Marne. Among these photographs were images of Vanel performing L’Acte manqué at the opening night of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, Paris, 1938. Soon after, an unpublished manuscript by Vanel was found in the adjoining archives of the Maison nationale des artistes, a retirement home for elderly artists. Between 1984 and 1985 Vanel had collected and typed up her memories. Within Vanelephant is a largely edited overview of Vanel’s ten original chapters. This edit plays out alongside portraits of herself, interspersed with a selection of attributed images and text. Warboys translated the texts herself and condensed the drama, and thus Vanel’s role has shifted from manuscript to script.