Photographer seeks male model

Distributed during Fiminco’s first exhibition, this “residency journal” testifies to the performative character of the project.

I moved to 43 rue de la Commune de Paris in Romainville in June 2020 along with fifteen other artists. There, I led a participative project on masculinities and their expression in Seine-Saint-Denis. This subject is close to my heart, particularly as a continuation of my work as a photographer considering the body and its image as political objects. During the eleven months I spent at Fiminco, I questioned the specificity of the photographic medium, its social uses, the power relations it implies and the norms it can produce.

“Réponses bavardes” questions the stakes of male domination over the group of men and tries to circumscribe what we call “hegemonic masculinity”. For two months (from March to April 2021), I proposed to men – of all ages and without restriction – to come and meet me at my studio and participate in private or group sessions to exchange and create around the masculine condition. The consultation, MD10, the Pink Project and Mirror-Mirror are four experimental workshops questioning men’s relationship to appearance, gender and the biographical or societal constraints that are linked to it. During those sessions, participants produced images, sounds or videos (all of which are conceived as elements of a ” socio-artistic investigation “) and talked about their conceptions of masculinity, here and now. Without imposing a definitive answer that would constitute itself as truth, the work is designed as a platform for local, modest, funny and chatty experimentation on self-image.

Over the few weeks during which my studio was open, I met 44 men, including a clown, a truck driver, and an artist I had mistaken for a delivery man. I got to know the neighborhood, heard political gossip, discovered the local associations. I gave tours of the foundation, presented the galleries, the FRAC, speculated about the destiny of the abandoned building nearby. I was given gifts. I was told about childhood, education, difficulties as men, as fathers. I was told about the pandemic I became unemployed. I was never invited for a drink or dinner. Never was there a moment of discomfort. I was told that the term “artist” is scary and that it would probably be better to say that I am a “photographer”.