At the era where « other » is a category when it comes to sex, it seems to be old-fashioned to think of human beings in terms of their sex : male or female. The distinction between man and woman is clearly not only biologic but socially constructed as De Beauvoir highlighted : « We are not born woman, we become woman. » By rethink gender as a normative social framework, we are also trying to look for its limit : What defines a woman rather than a man ? What are the aspects that makes you switch for a category to another ? When we blur all the tracks, there are not many things left to tell - the limit becomes a playground.
It is important that those categories start to be questioned in a more humanistic approach, rather than being discussed in a medical approach.
Through the character of Estienne, we are being confronted to think of those binary identity categories as subjective. Stirring up trouble with its appearance, the body becomes malleable, like a liquid playground.
That character was born from the desire to put into shape what is non-identifiable, out of the box, without labelling. Estienne has characteristics said to be « feminine » and others said to be « masculine » - wether it’s in the body postures or the physical appearance; what is created is « another » identity which is stepping outside of the norm and imposes itself as a subversive and transgressive image of the Self. Far from the monstrous image that society often associates with differences, Estienne (est-tienne : « is yours », in French) aims to liberate itself from this social condition and becomes the Other.
This photography project that I developed around my character is a call on questioning the body as an objective fixed entity. When we reconfigure some settings, it seems that we are at the edge of our perception : the body becomes a subjectively malleable entity. As an example, the body posture itself sends messages that we never put into words. None of the less, our perception still translates it and embeds it to our mind almost instantly. Those attitudes and postures are also labelled in a gendered way, in our mind as well as in society which gives us a common knowledge about it.
The idea behind this project is to deconstruct that common knowledge and to rebuild something around people that don’t identify as « male » or « female » in a heteronormative society. They are constructing their own mix of « masculine » and « feminine » by removing the binary box and being out of any boxes.
Estienne is an archetype of the new gender, the « other » box or rather the « no box ». It is also an allegory of the Queer movement that has been gaining strength over the last decades. By mixing BDSM references in the apparel as well as voguing references in the postures, Estienne is going outside of the normative social frames. Est-tienne as a way of telling that the choice of the label is up to the onlooker, the Other and paradoxically up to the person who presents it-Self to the world.
But when the image of femininity as well masculinity are established as sacred, isn’t it secular to disturb them ?
Estienne performance I
First started in 2017, the Estienne performance is a live experimental music performance where Estienne is performed as a character. The soundscape becomes a soundtrack of Estienne's emotions, like synesthesia.
Amongst the different places the performance was made there is the Silencio Club, Paris Fashion Week and in Osaka, Japan.