elsa Kostic

2020 - Ongoing

São Paulo, Brazil

If our societies did not control the way we represent ourselves, what our identities would be like?

Questioning the notion of gender and identity through transformation was the topic I wanted to work on with this project. I approached it as a dialogue with the models, in order to allow them to represent themselves the way they wish.

One of my first inspirations was the reading of philosopher Fabrice Midal’s book “Sauvez votre peau”. Midal’s purpose is to restitute the myth of Narcissus in its original meaning.

According to the author, being a narcissist would not be something wrong, but an absolute necessity for accepting ourselves and other people.

After living 6 months in Brazil in 2016 with the LGBTQI + community, which I had forged strong links with, it seemed obvious to me to carry out this project with them. That’s why I decided to come back for a couple of months at the beginning of 2020.

Before living there, I didn’t realize how risky it was to propose anything outside of the cultural norms and standards in Brazil. This country has the highest transgender homicide rate and keeps on rising since the election of Bolsonaro. You might lose your life just for being yourself.

Despite this extreme violence, I saw great pride in the assertion of identity within a tight-knit community in Sao Paulo - which I never saw anywhere else. This is the reason why I chose to put them in the spotlight.

Being proud and narcissistic is to dare to be oneself. Not to fall into line.

All the standards that crush our freedom must then be refused.

XYX-XO is a sexual chromosome I imagined. It can be endlessly reinvented. Out of all control, it allows infinite exploration of the self.

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  • Fractures, scars. The rock crumbles, it falls, to open up on golden reflections.

  • Imaginal Cells. To become a butterfly, a caterpillar has to first digest itself and its whole body turns into liquid.

  • “To transform we have to dissolve and it’s ugly. Allowing yourself to dissolve, I think that’s where people get stuck because we’re taught to identify as one thing or another.” Aya @xayahuascay

  • Hidden

  • From larva to butterfly, the pupa has a livery, a camouflage which avoids predators. July @julyrodrgues

  • Tears, puddles, lakes

  • Physical beauty, along with samba and soccer, is a cliché of Brazil.
    As a tropical fantasy of foreigners ready to believe in a “world without sin” south of the equator, it runs through five centuries of Brazilian history, from the letters of Portuguese sailors to the brochures of the online sex tourism business. Pedra @pedrapreta

  • Stage

  • Water is a transformational element, also connected to many rituals: baptism, bathing, cleaning or purging. Alexza @paraisoasweetgirlylovestory

  • Opening other doors

  • Transforming

  • Finding new places

  • Deconstruction

  • " In a sense, nonbinary is more than just an identity — it's a mentality.
    A way of reconciling an amalgamation of contradictions contained within us. It comes to terms with the fact that not all questions get answers.”
    Andy @anddywilliams

  • Not to fall into line

  • Any performative act - from the ancient theater to the voguing ball, including the Drag Race of American television - makes possible to constitute a travesty. And the very fact of going on stage involves a metamorphosis, the creation of a double, another self, an alter ego, but also a multitude of characters. Alexza @paraisoasweetgirlylovestory

  • Life as a performance

  • On the road

  • " We just have to destroy the chains on our faces, legs, bras, chest, body and release whatever is locked up." Pablo @kid_kmel

  • Infinite transformation