India is yet to become tolerant towards the LGBTQ community, says French photographer, Magali

A photo exhibition in the city moves to fight against all labels and prejudice
A photo on display at the Intimate Être exhibition
A photo on display at the Intimate Être exhibition
Updated on Feb 21, 2020 05:56 PM IST
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Mumbai | ByYoshita Rao

Magali Couffon de Trevors, the photographer behind the photo exhibition titled Intimate Être, describes her camera as her “most loyal companion”. For this French photographer residing in Bengaluru, the name for her exhibition, which is being showcased at Beyond & More showroom in Prabhadevi from February 21, is an amalgamation of sorts. Magali says, “In French, Être means ‘to be’ but Un Être means ‘a human being’, so this clicked (laughs). I also chose not to reveal any images of this show ahead of the first Bengaluru opening, which created a bit of a mystery around the concept.”

With the pictures shot in natural light and vertical portraits of members of the LGBTQ community, Magali says that she sourced her models for the shoot from a dating app. The photographer adds, “I strongly believe in the interaction between the photographer and the model to capture the best of humanity.”

A photo on display at Intimate Être exhibition
A photo on display at Intimate Être exhibition

Her portfolio on her website — which consists of pictures of the ordinary lives of teenagers to her own family captured in an Agatha Christie setting — describes each category with a poem or a deep caption, furthering her passion of writing. Excerpts from an interview:

Why did you choose to focus on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals for this exhibition?

We need to create a more tolerant world, and this community has been facing labels for generations. I have a lot of gay friends in India and around the world. They have to permanently face prejudice. India is yet to become tolerant towards the LGBTQ+ community. We need to move past prejudice.

How did you choose your subjects?

Well, I called a few friends, and then, by word of mouth, I got calls. I also spread the word through a dating application, which my friend has, and that helped spread the word.

A photo on display at Intimate Être exhibition
A photo on display at Intimate Être exhibition

It did not take long to get 10 subjects. But, some were reluctant to let me into their personal space. Some were happy to be in front of the camera but had not come out to the world so it became impossible [to shoot them]. I had to spend a good amount of time explaining my views and then making my models comfortable with me.

What do you hope to achieve with this photo exhibition?

My idea was to put up a fight against labels. The world we live in is full of intolerance, injustice and prejudice. But, through art, we can express and give a voice to communities who are usually silent. I believe that, as a photographer, it is my duty to work on projects which can make a difference, however small.

Have you always been a fan of photography?

Yes, maybe from the age of 12... My father used to take a lot of pictures and I was lucky to have an upbringing that gave me opportunities to travel a lot. Since then, I used photography to express myself, yet, I had to wait until I turned 40 to really become a photographer and quit all my other activities. Photography, for me, is like meditation.

How do you choose your muse?

I don’t work with muses. Yet, in my life’s philosophy, I believe things happen if they are meant to. I live to permanently generate ideas, and only a very small number of those come into existence. Though, I keep a track of the others as well.

When a show like Intimate Être comes to life and travels [to different cities], I feel it is an achievement. Usually, when this happens, I am already heading towards another project, which is now the case. I shot Intimate Être last year in February-March and now, I am looking at my next project which I will shoot during the coming summer in Portugal.

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