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Genevieve Gaignard: Counterfeit Currency at The Flag Art Foundation

Art Scene

Genevieve Gaignard: Counterfeit Currency at The Flag Art Foundation

The environs in and around Cocoa Beach, Florida offered an aesthetically lush backdrop to photographer Genevieve Gaignard’s latest series of performative self-portrait photographs. Featured in her solo exhibition, Counterfeit Currency at The Flag Art Foundation, the images were made while Gaignard was at an artist residency in the area, a location known for thriving retirement communities.

Gaignard Counter Fit

Familiar tropes of Florida retirement style are on full view in the fictional self-portraits – bouffant hairdos, decorative swim caps, and over the top makeup to name a few. Although Gaignard is young (born in 1981), she powerfully conjures the spirit of an old soul, humanizing the women she embodies in her photographs. Her acting ability is uncanny, giving equal amounts of visual and emotional information to viewers. A few of the photos suggest younger characters such as, a bottle blonde and materialistic beach babe, or a contemporary young woman with green hair posing in front of a graffiti mural that says “Miami”.

Counterfeit Currency Gallery Space

Despite the class or cultural milieu that Gaignard inhabits, a serious look of anger-tinged weariness seems to be the temperament of each of the fictional women she constructs. In one photograph the character, a woman in a white iridescent one-piece bathing suit, is shot from the side, waist up. The image is digitally manipulated so that the character appears four times in a row. In each rendition, the head is in a different swim cap and turned at various angles. A light blue background is consistent throughout the image, suggesting blue sky or an artificial chlorine blue swimming pool. Despite the fact that the face, makeup, and swimsuit remain the same in each of the four poses, Gaignard mesmerizingly gives her audience four different identities. Through slight adjustments in the pose of her head and facial expression, as well as the unique design of each swim cap, Gaignard hones in on the art of constructing an identity through external aesthetic choices.

Genevieve Gaignard Swim Suits

In fact, at the heart of Gaignard’s practice as an artist is her own identity as a white-skinned biracial person, born of one black parent and one white parent. Her exploration of the privileged access or different treatment that comes with a surface reading of a person, in this case, fair skin, becomes more and more evident as one moves through Counterfeit Currency. The exhibition also includes collage work and two domestic installations that use black cultural iconography like hair products, magazine images, and black panther decorative objects, to offer an unexpected backstory for Gaignard’s fictional characters. Perhaps, a history or interior life that runs parallel to Gaignard’s own experience; one where external perception does not tell the whole story.

Genevieve Gaignard Installation

Genevieve Gaignard: Counterfeit Currency at The Flag Art Foundation is on view through August 17, 2018.