There are more than 250 festivals, meetings, weeks and months of photography each year in France. Of course, it is impossible to account for them all , but sometimes we are surprised to discover one of them.
Thus, a young cross-border festival of photography and visual arts based in Cerbere and Portbou, whose 3rd edition will take place from the 19th to 30th of September 2018. One of the themes this year presented by Patrice Loubon is titled: Gender, Sex and Transgression! 6 amazing photographers are exhibited: here they are.
Art has always embraced sex and transgression with open arms, from rock art, phallic or vulva inscriptions to Leonardo da Vinci’s androgynous portraits, to Pierre Molinier’s trans-genre erotic photographs and Larry Clark’s lived intimacies, Nan Goldin, gender, sexuality and transgression irrigate art permanently. What is more obvious indeed is that photography is also the theater of representations and atypical sexual demands?Gender, sex and transgression is not the first or the last of the exhibitions that look into the issue. Meet here, 6 photographers who each in their own way, come to tell us their relationship to the body, gender and some forms of sexuality largely taboo. No wonder if in this selection 3 of them are Cuban, after having long reproved the manners described as “deviant” the famous little Latin American Island is indeed today at the forefront in the research for sex change…
In his series Gender Bender Noncedo Gxekwa (South Africa), affirms the power of women and at the same time, their individual and collective ability to twist the “gender”. Only she is strong and in group power 10! These “amazons” are thus entirely women but they also present an authentic physical strength that can paradoxically make them fear. They are no longer those “little fragile things” that the male likes to control, perched on stiletto heels, risking their balance. The established order is reversed. Caught in the trap of appearances, we hesitate … Supported by a serious technical mastery of the studio, the Machiavellian series borrows its aesthetics from the world of fashion and advertising that we know, that has no other objectives than to objectify woman for commercial purposes …
From his family experience, Yuri Obregon Batard (Cuba), the son of a bodyguard of Fidel, must keep a form of revolt intrinsic to social normality. Spokesperson for the wildest deviances and fantasies of fellow citizens, he practices portrait photography. Strongly impressed by Andres Serrano, the author is an explorer of sexual fantasies and the most daring travesty by adopting the canons of Dutch painting of the seventeenth century through a skilful art of lighting. Characters coming out of Gothic tales, the red apocalypse after the nuclear apocalypse, declinations and tributes multiplied to the Origin of the world of Courbet, the references of his images are sewn with a carmine red thread.
With Fabien Dupoux (France) and his reportage “Unmasked by his makeup”, produced in sumptuous black and white, features men disguised as women. Here, as it is so well said in his short text: “Behind the scenes of a Chinese opera, the play of mirrors allows one to guess, under the ephemeral look of the Comedy, the lost gaze, the sexual identity of a difference . Masterfully illustrated by the sweetness of some and the complexity of others of his images, this obviousness: the ultra-femininity of these men attracts attention. By succeeding in disturbing our certainties by the beauty of his glance, he opens to us, an accomplice, the intimate behind closed doors and the ambivalence of our desires.
In a similar approach, but in color, the young Alejandro Perez Alvarez (Cuba) was for three years “embedded” in a transforming cabaret in Havana to make a reportage. The photographic constructions of “El silencio del cuerpo” draw as much on the graphic field with scholarly constructions in which colored masses play technicolor-toned music together, and on a meticulous and benevolent observation of the consenting protagonists. Among them, the moving portrait of the oldest Cuban trans-sexual forced to be expatriated to Brazil for many years, he / she is back in his country now pioneer in the field with the CeneSex (Center national sex education) led by Raul’s daughter, Mariela Castro.
Yomer Montejo Harrys (Cuba) is a radiographer, not a photographer. He sees through us and beyond our skins. This is perhaps the strength and truth of this work, going to the bone of the subject.he delivers iconic images of Cuban left to the sexually stereotyped and unscrupulous foreign visitors appetite using the obscene easyness to obtain the body of the other “native” occupied with the search to survive by all means. A testimony from the inside, without puns, suffused with grinding humor and sprinkled with a touch of critical cynicism.
Zaida Gonzalez, like a post-disco-punk diva straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, is the author of a prolific and overflowing work, juicy and transgressive that seems to know no taboo and no limit. From the first secret experiences in the hut at the back of the garden to the portraits of the famous Hija de Perra, a chilean trans-sexual woman who died a few years ago, the images are like sparkling fireworks, sometimes dazzling! The visual shock is of course consciously thought out to provoke the spectator into his deepest entrenchments. At the edge of the chasm, we fall with joy, letting ourselves be dragged into its shimmering and baroque universe or frightened, we flee, repulsed by our worst inner reflections, our unexplored shadows. Because if you do not like the work of Zaida, make no mistake … draped with a devastating humor and acid colors, these works are also militant brulots made to fight the “good bourgeois moral” and warm our tails, and more if affinities …
Festival Photographie et Arts Visuels à Cerbère et Portbou
September 19 to September 30, 2018