I have always been fascinated by the human body. This theme is the focus of virtually all my artistic work. After my collegial studies, I considered becoming a medical illustrator. I saw it as a way of combining my twin passions for art and science, but I didn’t have the stomach for it: I found the idea of handling inert bodies repugnant!
NO GENDER took shape in Vietnam over fifteen years ago, when I was visiting an orphanage with an adoption organization. Someone put a baby, said to be a hermaphrodite, in my arms. That event left a permanent mark on me. I was fascinated to think that I had come face to face with a being who was simultaneously male and female. Learning that we have this “variation in sex” as part of humanity’s richness, and that someone would seek to decide the gender of these unique individuals for them, without their consent, upset me. Ever since, I have wondered: what if they were wrong?
As a painter, this fascination dovetails with my initial approach: I never define my subject’s gender! Intersex (the term for those born with a variation in sexual characteristics) is a topic that’s kept very quiet. I was afraid this project would lead people to judge me or influence my process. Since that trip, I have refused to show these pieces I was working on. I behaved exactly like these intersexuals: I hid – until one day I understood that my quest has always been the human being, the body in all its forms. That revelation gave me the momentum I needed to bring these works out of the closet and approach the intersex community, asking them to pose for me so that, through my work, they might exist as they are.
Being haunted by this subject, as an artist I have chosen a dramatic angle that is disturbing, distressing. My canvases are steeped in red, evoking blood, which for me represents life and death. There is also a lot of nudity in this series. It expresses the integrity of the human body.
With this installation, I want to disturb, to provoke, and in particular, to raise social awareness about this issue, which exists in all societies.