Smells Like Queer Spirit 

It is in the 1980s that Jean Paul Gaultier overturns dress codes and reveals the porous boundary between masculine and feminine. With playfulness, the fashion designer reverses roles, confounds gender and designs silhouettes that unite masculine sensitivity and feminine power. When they were launched, the brand’s perfume bottles also broke with the androgynous fashion of the 1990s. They have become iconic and are the starting point for the photographic explorations carried out here by the ECAL students.

For this research project directed by Florence Tétier and Nicolas Coulomb, the 3rd year Bachelor of Photography class is questioning the human body and its representations. The images created in 2021 by the 11 students of the ECAL are thought under the sign of pride and tolerance. Starting with the perfume bottle and the designer’s statements in favour of the degendered status of fashion, the photographers create different universes around the famous fragrance where nudes and still lifes rub shoulders. Playing with the fluidity of gender, the artists stage beings that blur the boundaries of male/female bipolarization. For these young artists, who are following the path opened thirty years ago by Jean-Paul Gaultier, fluidity is not perceived as a negation of the sexes but as a true richness. When gender becomes more flexible, new potentialities are opened up. This works show that the commitment to a more inclusive society also passes through images.

An exhibition produced by the ECAL/Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne as part of the Bachelor of Photography programme, under the direction of Milo Keller. The images were created on the occasion of Pride Month, with the collaboration of Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull, consultant at the ECAL on queer issues.

A publication, co-edited by ECAL x JPG x Novembre, is published on the occasion of the exhibition. The project is realized with the assistance of Matthieu Croizier and Yul Tomatala.

Name of the students: Dominique Bartels, Julie Corday, Diego Fellmann, Florian Hilt, Samara Krähenbühl, Angèle Marignac-Serra, Lisa Mazenauer, Marvin Merkel, Basil Pérot, Yolane Rais, Camille Spiller @ecal_ch @jeanpaulgaultier