Praz-Delavallade Paris is delighted to present the first exhibition in France of Genevieve Gaignard.
Born and raised in a Massachusetts mill town to a white mother and black father, Gaignard grew up
between two cultures. While enrolled at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she experimented with
photography and collage, investigating racial dynamics through composed environments and fabricated
characters. Following her graduation from Massachusetts College of Art in 2007, she was accepted to the
prestigious Master of Fine Arts program at Yale University. Over the next two years Gaignard continued to
explore notions of identity through parafictional photographic self portraiture, video, sculptural elements
Influenced by the soulful sounds of Billy Stewart (a singer and pianist from North Carolina who was
prominent in the 60s), the kitschy aesthetic of John Waters and the provocative artifice of drag culture,
Gaignard uses low-brow pop sensibilities to craft dynamic visual narratives. She blends humor, persona and
popular culture to reveal the ways in which the mixing contrasting realities can feel much like displacement.
Gaignard positions her own female body as the chief site of exploration – challenging viewers to navigate
the powers and anxieties of intersectional identity.
Gaignard mines social media culture for cues to stage her photographs, transforming herself as various
archetypes of women. Her work is often displayed in equally camp installations; environments laden with
objects and signifiers that express an intimate portrayal of race and gender. “Art is a powerful tool for
social change” confirms Gaignard, having said that she wishes we didn’t have to rely on things like art to
understand that black lives matter. However this is not the reality that we live in, she says, “I hope to create a
visual language that is both accessible and unforgiving in articulating the importance of black identity. With
my light skin comes privilege and I am committed to not getting complacent with that privilege”.
Genevieve Gaignard received her BFA in Photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her
MFA in Photography at Yale University. She has exhibited throughout the United States, including shows
at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Houston Center for Photography, and the California African American
Museum. In 2017, she was included in the Prospect.4 triennial titled The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, New
Orleans. Gaignard’s work is included in prominent US and foreign private collections.