Interview with
Cecile Plaisance

1. What were your most beautiful exhibitions (list 1-3)?

– Erarta Museum, St. Petersburg, January 2019/June 2019

– Art Miami, December

– Musée de l’Homme: “Je mange donc je suis” October 2019/September 2020

2. What are you passionate about?

Photography, windsurfing… and family!

3. If you were at the airport facing the departure board, where would you like to go?

Hawaii: My favourite destination…wild nature and modernity of the US.

4. Where can we have a chance to meet you?

At Café de Flore shooting with Marisa Papen as a noun…or on my board in the middle of the sea.

5. What was the price of the first artwork you sold?

I got 1000 € in my pocket!

7. The ideal menu? 

I like any kind of salad / fruits / coffee

8. A fictional hero you like? And in real life, a mentor maybe?

Peter Lindbergh, with whom I was lucky to shoot for 1 week! Also, Ellen von Unwerth or David LaChapelle, Pierre et Gilles, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and many more. They magnify women. 

I love Pop Art, comics by Lichtenstein, art by Basquiat, Niki de Saint Phalle or Mel Ramos, one of my mentors. Pop Art creates a direct emotion. Barbie was my icon, the messenger of the cause I feel strongly about, women’s rights. It could have been difficult but Barbara Handler, daughter of Ruth and Elliot Handler, founders of Barbie and Mattel, Inc., have been supportive and even bought one of my photographs.

9. Your favorite clothes?

I feel good with basics : T-shirt / baskets

10. A cause you feel strongly about?

Women’s rights. To me, art needs to deliver a message. It is time to go beyond simple aestheticism and beauty. My very first series Tribute to Helmut Newton, was already about delivering this message, for women to stand up for themselves, having the right to be autonomous, and sexy. I feel also strongly for women who are not fully respected in different religions. Women need to free themselves from male and religious dominance, all are intrinsically linked.

Nudity in a way represents freedom. Imagine a newborn. Our body is a divine vehicle, taking care of it and accepting it is very important. Marisa Papen is a naturist. She lives naked and considers that she never does it in a provocative way. She considers women must be free from everything, whether she wears a cassock or a garter belt. That is why I have asked her to be one of my models. I recall a shoot with her at the Café de Flore in Paris for the lenticular series. We went there early morning, but it was not a problem for her to drink coffee naked at on the terrace! When you become so comfortable with your body, you become a vessel of healing for yourself and the rest of the universe.

11. An advice or a sentence that struck you?

Si tu veux tu peux ! if you want, you can!

They often tell me I am crazy to show women in a burka. But If I don’t, who will denounce the condition of women in certain religions? Some nuns in Africa, for example, are considered as slaves. I am not vulgar, neither provocative. I just feel my voice can be heard a bit louder than the voice of my mother and grandmother and I wish to use it.

12. A habit or an obsession?

Sports every day!

13. A movie, a book or music you love?

Movie: 21 Grams by Alejandro González, with Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro…so sad, but stunning.

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Music: so many…I love our generation’s idols: Johnny, Dalida, etc. Music of my youth, Bus Palladium…and also the hits of the moment.

14. A regret? A dream?

I should have started photography earlier, and trusted my dream. As far as I can recall I have always loved photography. As a kid, I was collecting beautiful images in a notebook and my room was filled with big posters of beautiful and fascinating women shot by Newton, Avedon etc. But I kept this dream aside to start a career in Finance as a broker because my wish to be autonomous and free was so strong. Then I met my husband, we travelled around the world and settled in Belgium. I decided to drop finance and to study photography and Photoshop. At the end of the 3-year course, the school organised an exhibition open to the public. My “Tribute to Helmut Newton with Barbies as a model was an immediate success. My dream to shoot beautiful models and pass on my message finally came true. There is no such thing as fate.

15. A few words about the new series you have been working on?

A mix of superimposed images defending the species in danger with Olga. I shot my first underwater photos in Indonesia with whales, sharks and a whole universe of plastic bottles thrown in the sea. In Iceland, I shot icebergs and bought some rights on polar bears’ images. I am starting all these important subjects for future generations, with always at the center, the woman. This is also about men accepting their feminine side, their power of creativity where fecundity emerges.

16. What makes you laugh? 

My cat!