In How do you love me?, Émilie Régnier presents black-and-white self-portraits with an Afro hairstyle as well as straightened hair, signifying versions of herself that are deemed more “Black” and more “white” by society at large. In some images, Régnier has cut and taped together film, which she has then scanned into one photograph, splicing together two different images of herself. In these pictures, the artist is literally bifurcated and the two versions of herself are juxtaposed, a visual that is suggestive to the viewer of the nature of the reality she must negotiate. Régnier pairs the photographs in this series with text that explores her relationship with her physical being and identity and the ways in which the world tries to categorize and label her based on comments she has received in the past about her physical appearance that often were influenced by how her hair was styled. The artist questions the notion of “mixed ancestry” and explores her experience as a child who grew up in Gabon in Central Africa and later on as a teenager and young adult who lived in Montreal: “We are embraced and rejected. Never pale or dark enough.…Black in the Western World and white on the African continent.”
Born in Canada to Canadian and Haitian parents, Régnier spent most of her childhood in Central Africa before moving to Dakar in Senegal and to Paris. She is currently based in Montréal. Working in series, she explores through her artistic practice the cultural signifiers that portray the intersection of beauty, power, and identity. Régnier acknowledges that “as a person of mixed race, you portray the collision of two worlds. But you can also consolidate two distinct universes. I am white and Black, I am Canadian and Haitian.” How do you love me? confronts these two worlds.
Presented by Capture Photography Festival in partnership with TransLink