The photo series "Backstage" proposes an insight behind the Voguing scenes in Paris and its suburb. Expression of an underground, queer and minority culture, this movement has been on the rise for a few years in France now (1). Fascinated by these performers, their ability to embody intellectual and artistic open-mindedness, to challenge norms, and to question sexuality, gender issues and finally identity, I've started to document this amazing world, which symbolizes a thirst and a quest for freedom.

In Paris like everywhere else, this urban dance expresses a desire of breaking free, while following unwritten rules shared between performers and transmitted from a generation to another, and based on values of non-discrimination, tolerance and race diversity or cultural, social, sexual or gender identity as well as religious. A very large majority of Voguers come from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, this artistic moment is a special opportunity for all the performers to get together and proud. It creates a room for this multigeneraltional and mixed-culture based community, which is a place for both emancipation and empowerment and a shelter where each member can find comfort and protection. This artistic movement then plays a role of Ambassador for multiculturalism, enriched by these multiple influences, and attracts more and more people, despite and maybe because of continuing discrimation, stigmatization, prejudice and rejection they've been suffering from as members of minorities.

Voguers teach us about resilience and pride to be oneself and especially genders are not, can not definitively be binary. Following these artists, I want to explore the moments out of the lights, in the private dimension before and after the shows they offer, what lies in the margins. By chosing to place at the heart of my photographic work, what happens at the periphery of the shows, I try to cast a new light on their intimacies, this anteroom where anger, anxiety but also dreams, excitement, hope, determination, joy, laughters and friendship are concentrated. because their identities, their lives are political.


"The great confrontation can not be indefinitely postponed." Frantz Fanon

Notes :

Initially created by prisonners of Rikers Island in the USA, this fundamentally political movement prospered in the 1960s along with the protest movement of the Black and Latinos Trans and Drag communities and then reached the rest of the the sexual minorities. "Voguing " is an outlet for individuals used to living in a society where communities hardly mix together. Its core principle is based on playing with poses struck by fashion models that one can see on the covers of magazines, and transforming them into fantastic and performative dances of the ghettos, and behing that, the idea of subverting the signs of power. This movement has finally become big in the middle of the 1980s, at the heart of the AIDS devastation times. Since 2011, Voguing has benefited from a renewed enthousiasm in France.

« Paris Is Voguing »

Documentary directed by Gabrielle Culand

France - 2016 - 67 minutes

« Lasseindra Ninja and Stéphie Mizrahi are two French pioneers of Voguing, a dance created in the 1970s in the gay community of Harlem. These two "mothers" have made it their mission to transmit this highly codified homosexual culture to young people in the French suburbs. With rigour and patience, they teach their "children" to dance, to be elegant, but also to be proud of their gender and their skin colour. »

(Some first names are borrowed).