Since the end of January, the ARCHIPEL_0 exhibition has been showing the work of a new generation of photographers. One of them, Lyoz Bandie, is preparing to release their first book. In La peau du prénom, the artist calls on their friends and the natural world that surrounds them to help them to change their first name for once and for all.
A name which you cannot shake off, which eats away at your skin like a poison. A name that you want to tear off with all your strength in order to be able to breathe again, finally. Lyoz Bandie, a Belgium-based artist who was born in Tours, did not always go by the name Lyoz. When they were nearing the end of their studies at the ESA Saint-Luc in Liège, Audrey could not bring themself to sign their work with the gendered name they were assigned at birth, which had become unbearable to them: “It wasn’t me.”
A different name, sure, but what? To figure this out, the artist threw themself into a frantic quest to find themselves; an instinctual journey, the traces of which would be preserved through photographs. So many clues gathered semi-consciously which, when put together, would form the jigsaw puzzle of their new name, their new identity.
Along the way, they encountered souls and bodies that inspired them. “Taking portraits of people to whose masculinity, femininity, or fluidity I was drawn was a way of exploring myself through them,” says Bandie. “One of my first photo shoots was with a friend who is a transgender man. To me, he was a model of someone who had transitioned and felt at ease with his masculinity.”
As well as frontal portraits full of light, the artist also photographed bodies, in various states of undress, bodies without faces, submerged bodies, some unsettled, others embattled. “Because we are trapped in them. Sometimes we feel at ease in our bodies and sometimes they bother us, and we would like a different one,” says Bandie, who does not hesitate to turn the camera on themself. “It felt important to document my own transition.” In doing so, they also immortalised the paperwork required by the Kafkaesque procedures for changing their name.
Answers in nature
Transformation is at the heart of Lyoz Bandie’s images; they sometimes even use digital processes to take them somewhere different, to transcend them. “Although I experimented a lot in my personal life, I also wanted to give myself the freedom to experiment with the artistic medium.”
Hypersensitive, their senses awakened, the artist also seeks answers to their questions in the signs that nature and the universe provide, while taking long introspective walks. Nature to return to one’s own true nature. “I think back to the child that I was. They were a non-gendered and free child.”
At the end of the road, a book: La peau du prénom. And a new name: “Lyoz comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘one who is separate by nature’. It is almost as if it was written.”
The exhibition 'ARCHIPEL_0' can be viewed in Contretype untill 19 march. On this day at 15.30, the book 'La peau du prenom', published by Edition du Caïd, will be presented. More info on www.contretype.org.