• Gian CRUZ, Lana YANOVSKA & Vincent GOURIOU

Unstable Traces of Humanity


There is an undying and impenetrable nature of identity that it continues to persist in the very heart of contemporary culture. It goes beyond trends and currents that easily dissipate as new ones come and go and overtake the other by way of novelty or relevance.
The peculiar charm of identity rests in each one of us. In each one of us rests our own particular glossaries of how to fully go about our own respective identities. It is the most honest and basic application of such a complex word. And it traverses to the even more volatile and unstable traces of humanity.
In light of the recent turn of events shaped by animosity, there is an active for inclusion. The more this divide is strengthened by varying socio-political persuasions, the more it won’t allow for reconciliation and the walls built from here will be more and more irrelevant in this age of global interconnectedness.
Unstable traces of humanity need not necessarily mean something vague but rather indistinct because of its unrealized ability to unveil certain truths about ourselves and others. It’s much like how our identities are intrinsically linked to ourselves but they remain elusive towards being fully understood but they remain palpable nonetheless. Perhaps it’s like a memory engrained in the recesses of our minds but we can’t exactly and vividly go about them. It’s much like the tropes of the indistinct resting on these portraits by Gian Cruz, Lana Yanovska and Vincent Gouriou.
You as Me is a series of self-portrait by Cruz where he asks other people to stand in for him. Moreover it is a dialogue unconsciously or perhaps consciously working on inclusion as he sees himself through different people of varying persuasions, cultures, identities, and physicalities. Meanwhile, Yanovska by way of Polarities challenges spectators to go beyond binary opposites. It also urges us embrace that uncertain middle ground with these two opposing forces as a prerequisite to tap into those unveiled truths about us. Lastly, Gouriou invites us to delve into the inner psyche through his redefinition of the notion of families as we focus on Melanie and her family. Here, the photographer captures a very delicate phase of her life depicting her shift from male to female and how her family and her boyfriend were all involved in that transition.
Despite the different tendencies and perspectives offered here, what rests is an unnvering state of contemporary fluidity that unveils a greater truth the world needs to get a hold of these days. This greater truth then leads us to overcoming fatal racial profiling to those prejudices over the unknown as we altogether culminate our individualities to a greater sense of humanity. Perhaps, it’s not always overly out there but if we listen and observe close enough, it will be there to unveil itself ever more greatly to us and to our innermost selves.

Lana Yanovska / Polarity
’Polarity’ is about androgyny in the first place. Androgynous people don’t fit in the typical gender boxes, they scare, baffle and fascinate at the same time. The series plays with stereotypes and norms, showing the wide spectrum of what is considered ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. ‘Polarity’ emerged from photographers own experience with gender stereotypes and also from her previous series ’Selective Perception’, exploring how differently people are perceived depending on partner they are standing next to and how often people depend on their own expectations while perceiving the others.

Gian Cruz / YOU AS ME
You as Me is a series of self-portraits where Cruz asks other people to stand in for him. At present it is a catalogue of over 200 individual portraits which the artist has been doing since 2013. It also plays around with the contemporary construct of identities and self-presentation in the digital age and how it everyone seemingly looks the same. Cruz was particularly interested in this inherent paradox in representing himself through others yet over time, the amalgamation of portraits led to a a more gripping and perplexing narrative about him. Altogether, this project as a whole serves as an exploration and manifestation of the complexity and fluidity of Cruz’s identity.

Vincent Gouriou / Melanie & her family
Melanie is posing with her boyfriend, with her father, her step-mother and her sister. She lives in a little village near Quimper in Brittany. She’s in the middle of a sexual reassignment (Male to Female). She is highly supported by her family, her friends and her boyfriend. I intend to avoid stigmatisation and categorisation of people through a photographical approach which does not only consist in being an observer but also in getting involved and close to the subject in order to show universality in specificity.

Gian CRUZ, Lana YANOVSKA & Vincent GOURIOU

Lana Yanovska is a fine art photographer and video artist, born and raised in Mykolayiv (Ukraine). She moved to Germany in 2005 to pursue the studies in photography and painting in Frankfurt am Main. With the aim of photography and moving film, Yanovska explores the perception of gender and sexuality and challenges the viewer to look closer at her- or himself through her work.
With her recent series ’Polarity’, Yanovska won 1st prise in 2016 years Pride Photo Award category ’Insiders/Outsiders’, which was also selected for Out Frames exhibition at Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (Italy) as part of Gender Bender Festival. Since 2011, her works have been exhibited in Germany, Estland, The Netherlands and Italy.

Gian Cruz (b. 1987, Manila, Philippines), an emerging artist whose artistic practice is heavily rooted in photography. His major preoccupation is about tracing identities (most often self-referential) in the digital age with the aid of photography and his work does the inevitable crossing over to the realm of performance initiating his work to a more complex spectrum. As his works talk about discourses and processes in relation to his art making, the finished work he creates are often just initiators towards a bigger picture, a bigger elsewhere.
Cruz was formerly a researcher for the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. He has also previously published research on contemporary art with the Museu Histórico Nacional (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), and the University of the Philippines - Diliman. His writings have been simultaneously published in Korean, Portuguese and Thai. Cruz was also shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards : The Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism in 2014, a finalist for the Personal Light | The Photophore Contemporary Photo Award and came in at 2nd Place in the Open Category of the Pride Photo Award (Amsterdam, Netherlands). In 2016, Cruz was also selected as one of the selected young artists to be trained by the Venice Biennale in their special program called the Biennale College - Teatro. His works have been exhibited in the US, Romania, Norway, Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, India and Korea.

Vincent Gouriou (b. 1974, Brittany, France) lives in Brest (France), interested in diversity, his work leads him to explore intimacy and identity. Since 2012, he has made many collectives exhibitions in Paris : at the BnF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France / French National Library) in 2016 where he won the first price from the « Bourse du talent # 66 Portrait » and in 2013 where he won a “coup de coeur” from the « Bourse du Talent # 54 Portrait » ; in 2014, he participated in Circulation(s) festival of Young European Photography (selection of the jury) at CENTQUATRE ; in 2014 for the Mois de la Photo 2014 (official selection), and in 2016 at Pavillon Carré de Baudouin. In Malaysia where he won second prize (open category) – Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards, in the Netherlands : Old church, Amsterdam / Pride Photo Awards : in 2016 he won the second prize (theme category) & the second prize (public) and in 2015 the third prize in the single image category ; at Utrecht at Fotodok Festival « There is Something about My Family ». In Brittany : in Brest at the Centre Atlantique de la Photographie (2013 and 2014) and in Lorient at the “Rencontres photographiques 2015”.
His work is has been selected to enter the collections of the MEP (Maison Européenne de la Photographie) and BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France).