Emilie Hallard is a French self-taught photographer living in Barcelona, Spain. Her work came to our attention after she submitted it for our Instagram focus: series feature. I immediately loved what she was doing, the purity, honesty and diversity of her images moved me. I knew it would do no justice showing them on Instagram, as our account is clearly targeted and we are often prevented from showing work that other accounts can show with even less censorship than we use. I wanted to hear her story and to be able to give her work the censorship-free consideration it deserves.
FFU: Could you tell us about your background in photography?
EH: I'm a proud self-taught photograph and publisher. I started with with a diary-based approach focusing on people and nightlife with an intimate, moody and sensual dialogue before to move on to a more straightforward approach. I also worked in art galleries and a photo agency and organised different events and festivals related to independent photobooks. I created my publishing house, Maria Inc., in 2015.
FFU: Tell us about this series called Les corps incorruptibles, what is your message?
EH: The 21st century still drags on with the same beauty standards of the last century. Those of a young, white, thin, ethereal and heterosexual woman. I refused the norm, cherished and desired bodies of all ages, sizes, genders and colours. By taking a tender look at my peers, I deconstruct beauty standards and began a quest for honesty, empowerment, acceptance and self-confidence. Les corps incorruptibles is a collection of 40 nude portraits accompanied by texts from inspiring activists, writers, and philosophers. The book is an invitation to reflect on a more inclusive world, on our biases and prejudices, on what we impose on our own bodies, on male and female hegemonies, on heterosexual, racist and capitalist systems of exploitation and on the notion of performance; to deconstruct our hetero-normative, Eurocentric and ableist referents and to become aware of our privileges. And within a queer ideal, I would like one day all these bodies to have the same value and cease to be political. But in the meantime, I celebrate this diversity with a benevolent look at my peers.
Les corps incorruptibles is my feminist, queer and anti-racist declaration of love.
FFU: That is so beautiful and it completely radiates in synchronicity with your images as well. Speaking of feminism, what do you think about feminism in general? In Spain? In 2020?
EH: I am extremely happy to witness and be part of this historical moment. Feminism is definitely the greatest fight of the century. Feminism is the opportunity to rethink the world in another way and end capitalist, sexist and racist systems of exploitation. Sisterhood has been life changing as well. I now only publish works from women and non-binary artists and my team is only composed of female, racialised and / or queer professionals. Feminism must be applied at all levels and in our everyday. I clearly position myself as an intersectional feminist and state a clear position against white feminism or TERF. In Spain, feminism exploded! We had last year the greatest demonstration of the world. It was breath taking. Nevertheless some afro-feminist collectives did not join the demonstration because their issues are still not properly included in the “dominant” feminism. We have to keep deconstructing our beliefs, be aware of our privileges and always be more inclusive.
FFU: I completely agree, we must listen, discuss, include. We've already had some learning experiences there. We had wanted to show your work on our Instagram feed, but as our account is apparently flagged we explained we couldn't do so, even if we censored the images. It was disappointing for us. Does social media censorship have an impact on promoting your work? If so, could you explain how?
EH: Censorship belongs to other centuries and especially reminds us of dark times in our history. This is cultural totalitarianism based on arbitrary and reactionary decisions. Why don’t they censure accounts of mainstream adult entertainment companies like Playboy USA? This is definitely a major problem, moreover because many feminist and queer platforms are on Instagram. Hashtags allow people to find your work easily; it's a way to enter new markets where you naturally have no access, like the US market in my case. It's really a major issue for artists working with their bodies or about bodies.
FFU: Exactly! They don't follow their own rules, and as a result it just becomes a joke, really. Not to mention the way they censor is scary on so many levels because of what it's teaching people. If you could speak to a representative of Instagram face to face, what would you say?
EH: You cannot deprive half of the world's population of showing themselves as they wish. But we can deprive you of your advertisers if all of us decide to close our accounts. Feminism and its advances is unstoppable. Change now your policy before looking completely ridiculous when we will switch to other inclusive platforms. "Our bodies, our rules!”
FFU: Hear, hear. So, what are you currently working on?
EH: As a photographer, I am organising presentations, workshops and an exhibition. As a publisher, I am slowly starting to look at new works to publish, and as a future coach, I am finishing my master.
FFU: That's all wonderful to know! Any last words for our viewers?
EH: Thank you for reading me! You can see the series here.
If you like it very much, order my book published by Maria Inc. here.
Take care of yourself, of your beloved ones and be kind to others. Especially if they don’t meet the norms.