Magali Couffon has been a photographer for several years and it's a relationship she describes as 'a lifeboat in a pool of negativity'. In her latest series, Intimate Etre, she puts up a fight against labels, stereotypes and genres through 12 encounters, 12 portraits and 12 stories. She speaks to Shraddha Nair about her journey and her experiences with this series, of stories told from the homes of her subjects
Tell us about yourself as an artist - how your practice developed into creating this series today
I’m a people person, I photograph human beings and capture human stories. I always think it is important to take pictures and create images on subjects you are interested in... this conviction has actually almost put a halt to my commercial work as I like to work solo and decide my ways. The past few years I have developed an interest in people, communities which are different and who do not always have solutions to be heard. My photography practice has given me the opportunity to believe that the fact that I am interested in someone s life and develop an interaction with that person or group of people can have a therapeutic influence sometimes... The relationship between the model and the photographer is getting more and more important to me as time passes. It surely has a huge impact on what I decide to work on. I love the proximity of what the camera allows me to show, I love the way the camera shields me or exposes me. I love colour and drama. I love natural light.
To summarise anything related to human lives can become one of my subjects.
How did the concept of this photo series 'Etre' develop and why is it important today?
The concept came to me after having a number of conversations regarding the feminine, the masculine and the flow between both... it came to me after a collaborative work I did last year with a young French installation artist, it came to me because I live in this world and interact with as many people as I can. After that I decided of the elements and how to proceed. The point was to follow the same way for all the characters.I purposely wanted the series to be very very simple, a person in his or her environment with no extras...in order to simplify even more.
How was the process of creating these images informative for you as an artist - how was this process different from the rest?
It was a very enjoyable process all together as I had to meet all my 10 wonderful models. Yet it is also an open series as I could continue forever. But there are constraints, of spontaneity, space and time, for when you pop up in someone’s life or home, you can’t stay too long. The end product, the image became far less important than it normally is to me because sitting and chatting and explaining and understanding took over.
What is your view on the plight of the LGBTQIA community today - in India as well as globally?
Well globally things are moving and have moved a lot the past 20 years yet I still feel a lot of stigma. Globally the laws have been more and more worked on to understand and tolerate more differences except in some pockets of the world where it's probably become worse.
In India because of all traditions and family rules and the importance of what image we give... it's taken more time....