Sylvie Castioni‘s solo exhibition celebrates the liberation of the body. Through her photographic practice rooted in the enhancement of women, Sylvie Castioni gives voice to their sensuality and power. With several emblematic figures of French cinema as models, such as Léa Seydoux or Emmanuelle Béart, the photographer creates their portraits, through which the self-confidence that her muses experience next to her shines through.
Statement by Nikita Dmitriev, curator.
In recent decades, much has been said about the “male gaze” in art history as an instrument of domination over female bodies. However, it would be a sin against the truth to declare that women never perceived them equally as a weapon of revolt or a tool of power. In the Minoan pantheon, the famous Snake Goddess was represented bare-chested. So were the Amazons – female warriors of the Greco-Roman mythology. In 15th century’s France, Agnès Sorel – almighty mistress of King Charles VII – wore a ceremonial dress exposing her breast. An icon of contemporary feminism, the African-American performer Joséphine Baker gained notoriety by dancing with her chest uncovered. In the 2010s, the “Free the Nipple” movement in Europe and America promoted the same ideas, and under the pressure, in 2023, major social media platforms began lifting restrictions on posting the female breasts. French photographer Sylvie Castioni likewise makes part of this artistic and activist tradition. “Pioneering, exceptional women were rare in history but they existed! Today it is to them that I pay tribute and also to all those who don’t accept being judged because they bare their chest in public”, declares Sylvie Castioni.Trained at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon as a painter, she made a remarkable career in the national cinema and fashion industry. Sylvie Castioni regularly collaborates with magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or Madame Figaro, shooting prominent personalities such as Léa Seydoux, Cindy Bruna and Emmanuelle Béart. Sylvie Castioni regards her artistic practice – in which the naked female body plays an important role – as a means of freeing woman from the shackles imposed by society, the concept of “sorority” being crucial to her creative philosophy. “I speak to all women in the world subject to taboos and shame to tell them that their body isn’t an object of desire not belonging to them, but that it is powerful and marvelous”, notes Sylvie Castioni. At the same time, she doesn’t reject the traditional codes of fashion photography, but rather fills them with a special sense of freedom and comfort, which is rarely revealed in images of this kind.To a large extent, this is explained by a special emotional relationship established between Sylvie Castioni and her models. ”What really drives me crazy is the encounter with my own magic and the connection with that of other women that we are channeling to the world together! Our contemporary societies have extinguished it and I’m in a way the guardian of this flame of primordial beauty», confesses Sylvie Castioni.The photographer‘s thorough knowledge of art history reveals itself in many of her photos. A connaisseur would recognize Léa Seydoux’s portrait by Sylvie Castioni as a discreet reference to François Boucher’s “The Blonde Odalisque”. Barbara Palvin, whom we look at through her lens, would remind us of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”, and Cindy Bruna would resemble the Tahitian beauty of “Woman Holding a Fruit” by Paul Gauguin. “Unlike many figures in the history of Western art who objectified women, however, I perceive them as my fellow souls, in total connection with me”, clarifies Sylvie Castioni.The vibrant, fiery vitality, “turning on” the public – men and women combined – on an almost physiological level, is the uttermost feature of her oeuvre.This energy, ever-present but quite inexplicable in rational terms, “activates” all other aspects of Sylvie Castioni’s creative practice, being a guarantee of its enduring originality.
Sylvie Castioni is a Paris-based fashion photographer and feminist activist. Graduate of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon, she collaborates with Vogue, Madame Figaro, Numéro, L’Obs. Among her recent models are Léa Seydoux, Emmanuelle Béart, Cindy Bruna, Barbara Palvin, Léna Situations.
Sylvie Castioni : Amazones
February 28 – March 6 2023
Opening reception: March 2, 2023, from 7 to 10 pm
7bis rue des Saints-Pères