Congratulations on being one of our 2016 finalists!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work, and what made you apply to the Emerald Life Winter Pride Arts Awards.
Originally from Paris, France, I am a commercial and fine art photographer specialising in Wet Plate Collodion, a 19th century photographic process. With my fine art work I always have been interested in social commentary, human and gender equality. Wth my shortlisted piece St Sebastian from the NUDA VERITAS series – a Wet Plate Collodion photography series, I talk about gender equality and nude censorship in art in social and other media platforms. Last year I was nominated for the Passion for Freedom 2015 awards for my wet plate work “Icarus” which also dealt with censorship and free the nipple movement; but I wanted this year to explore the male naked body which suffers from censorship and double standard.
St Sebastian prayed for protection against the plague yet…he became a martyr about AD300 by being shot by arrows before meeting his fate later on… In this modern day, Art censorship continues to plague this line of beauty, strangling us to suppress our gender, sexuality and identity. Leaving scars behind and toxic traces…. A perfect vehicle to explore it further using my photographic practice: Wet plate collodion.
Invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, the Wet plate method is a process using panes of glass, coated with a highly toxic chemical solution as the negative. The method is a demanding, expensive and lengthy unique historic process, which can also produce a positive image by using tin or aluminium instead of glass.
What does the awards brief this year ‘Line of Beauty – exploring sexuality, gender and identity’ mean to you? How do you feel your entry fits with this brief?
Looking at the Emerald Life Winter Pride award theme this year, i felt that my work represented he strength of beauty, sexuality, gender and identity but also using the wet plate collodion process with highly toxic chemicals; each portraits leaves a trace of their own myth, pain, obsession and desires i feel is experienced by nude censorship in art.
Looking further, both genders have suffered in their representations in art and often have been misunderstood in its depiction of the naked body. Society deemed nudes in art offensive, immoral, even harmful… yet nudity in art has been adored and embraced for centuries in churches, galleries and many other sacred places. However, in the fast moving and evolving age of social media – many platforms have reignited this plague, which blind many to silence art in its purity: Ultimately robbing us of the naked truth.
In times of violence and controlled political propaganda, the naked body only speaks of true love with an open mind, of divine beauty in this series. I look at classical bodies from both genders to feel a reaction to the effects of censorship in nudes in art. Let it be the glance that stares right at the toxic campaign to enslave the female nipple or the wounded fallen angels denied of identity and expression.
What is your inspiration? What makes you want to work?
Inspiration comes from the world around me, from human contact and every sensation nature is giving me. I feel passionate about this work because it represents all of us – suppression in any form destroys our own identity. If “we fear what we don’t understand” then lets create work to break barriers, explore and have a better understanding, and become more compassionate.
Art is a powerful language and can make a difference. It can Inspire or provoke but above all opens a dialogue and raises awareness. Injustice in the world can be fought in many ways, true understanding is found through compassion and using art to cleanse us all from the atrocities. To create art is to create freedom for others while you find yourself.
The Arts Award is open to eleven different art forms this year – what to you is art?
As a foreigner, and an non English speaker as my first language, language is an important part of any society. It allow us to grow together and become stronger. Art is no different. Every art form brings a colourful palette to the life around us. It is timeless, ageless and art is and should be accessible to everyone.
With cuts to funding and arts studios looking to continue in the UK, what do you think are the greatest challenges to artists? Do you think that society still values art and artists?
With 40% cuts of art funding last year, art is suffering more than ever. Art studios, galleries but also libraries have been closing down and transformed into so call affordable housing – dictated by the current economic crisis. But art is important to society, providing support for communities.
My biggest challenge is to continue the dialogue with my work while facing cuts. In this fast pacing world art is also changing, evolving and adapting to the current climate but we as a society must value and not lose sight of the importance of its benefits.
More cuts will paint a very bleak landscape and in time will fade away…loosing part of our cultural heritage.
And finally, we are all going to be feeling proud this Winter Pride season, but what else makes you feel proud?
I live for each moment and each breath I take. Proud to be alive to bring art to life. Proud to be nominated to raise awareness and fight for equality. Proud to be standing for something I believe and to be believe in…and not being alone.
Interview by Alice Botham, Emerald Winter Pride Arts Coordinator