Based out of Los Angeles, Genevieve Gaignard, deploys her photography as a focal point for various social issues such as race, femininity and class. The artist is the subject of her photographs as a form of self-portraiture. This Miami Art Week, her work will be featured at FREE!, an alternative, noncommercial contemporary art fair taking place in Brickell City Centre conceptualized by cultural producer Anthony Spinello. Like Gaignard’s work which upends our biases around identity, FREE! interrupts and activates public spaces in the shopping center based on three core principles: FREE! Public, FREE! Play, and FREE! View. Before the VIP preview, Gaignard, one of several yung artists participating in the fair, gave us insight into the new work and her anticipations for Art Basel.
Why have you chosen yourself as the subject of your photographs? I use myself as the subject to address my own experiences and curiosities as a biracial woman. I play with stereotypes as a way to confront the ways in which we cast judgement on people that often don’t truly speak to that person’s story and identity.
How can art liberate those who have been socially excluded? Art can be liberating in many ways, especially when it is created by artists that have been socially excluded themselves. There seems to be a shift in the art world, artists of color once overlooked, are now rising to the forefront and their voices are being heard. Through our work and varied perspectives, art can open a dialogue and spark relevant conversation about this very specific moment in time.
In many of your self portraits, you’ve transformed yourself into several different characters. How have these images explored the various forms of femininity? I believe there is power in all female forms. I use my characters to challenge the expectations of femininity put upon us by society. I’m interested in the performative aspect of “stereotyped” femininity which begs to be deconstructed. I want there to be a breakdown of what we perceive as perfection because that’s more like real life.
As an accomplished photographer and artist how would you like your work to affect a change in society? I’m interested in activating the minds of privileged bodies in how they perceive and treat others. Why are we not all treated with the same humanity? I’m drawn to referencing the past in my work because the issues of systemic racism in America are still clearly prevalent. It is my hope that my work shifts people’s perspective to address and dissolve prejudices.
From an artists perspective, what do you look forward to the most during Art Basel? I’m most excited to connect with the other artists and see their work in person. I’m really looking forward to seeing the works by Kennedy Yanko, Basil Kincaid, and Maria Berrio, just to name a few.
Has photography transformed your identity or helped you discover it? My practice has forced me to unpack the complexities of identity and discover the commonalities in our differences. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, and I look forward to continuing this investigation.