5 Questions, 15 Photos: What Makes Genevieve Gaignard Shoot Herself?

Genevieve Gaignard is really like nobody else. If you have a fancy art degree, you can name precedents  and place Gaignard in a continuity of historically important art and artists—much of that art by women who appear to be caught up in or on the cusp of or causing some kind of revolution.

So, if you feel the need, go ahead and center Genevieve Gaignard in some placeholder of context; just make sure it doesn't detract from the originality of her execution and and her singular worldview.

It's hard to think of any other visual artist who has been as fully invested in their work. If Gaignard were any more physically committed to the outcome of her pictures, she'd be in a category with Van Gogh's ear.

Is that a bit of hyperbole at play? Yes, but not much. Take a look at Genevieve Gaignard's site right here, or spend a few moments with her Instagram account. Now try to make the case that a little exaggeration isn't justified and correct. 

The KIND: Are your photos self-portraits or something more?

Genevieve Gaignard: They are definitely self-portraits, given that I am featured in the photographs, however, there is a part of what I do that goes beyond the traditional scope of a self-portrait. While my photographs explore various characters and archetypes that are derived from elements of my personal identity, my process deals with a cultural excavation that calls into question notions of an "authentic" self.

The KIND: What are the rewards of openly challenging preconceptions about identity and persona?

Genevieve Gaignard: The reward is seeing the audience engaging in what I feel to be important conversations about race, gender, and body image. If my work can spark a dialogue about these issues, then that is the best possible reward.

The KIND: Why photography?

Genevieve Gaignard: Sometimes I ask myself the same question, and as a result I will make a video—or shoes—or a collage—or an installation. But, there is something about photography that feels matter of fact, and I like to play with that quality of the medium.

The KIND: If you ever found vanity creeping into your process, what would you do?

Genevieve Gaignard: I feel like a hint of vanity already appears in my work. It allows the viewer to compare and reflect upon their own ideas of vanity , which I feel reveals very interesting elements of how we see others and ourselves. The characters are vulnerable themselves, and to me, a part of them has to react with strength, power, and beauty.

The KIND: As a serious artist, are you really having as much fun as it looks like?

Genevieve Gaignard: Yes and no. Yes, because the art that I make is my passion. It’s my life. It is literally taken from my everyday interaction with my surroundings. However, when I am creating a new project or character, I go into a deep headspace. I am so focused and determined that I often block out the outside world. That disconnect can be draining and isolating, but so necessary to get the outcome I desire.