Young Artist Challenges Fashion’s Feminine Focus in Short Film

Age and wisdom often come hand in hand, but Brazilian visual artist Bruna Alves is the 22-year-old whose video and photography work isn’t afraid of tackling the big issues. Her most recent video, Subsolo )P(, approaches the effects of strictly gendered fashion norms through the monochrome lens of a young man exploring his own sense of personhood.

Bruna’s always identified with photography and video art as ways of conceptualising recorded moments, and Subsolo )P(, shot on a Canon 60D mainly in the parking lot of the model’s home, is an interesting conceptualisation of all the moments in which you’ve opened your wardrobe and thought: what would people think if I wore that? Bruna’s piece unties this kind of gender stereotyping that haunts our clothing choice.

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The title is an interesting compound: ‘subsolo’, meaning basement in Portuguese, is followed by a deconstruction of the (P) sign often found in lifts to designate the basement, or parking lot. It’s a smart play for an artist looking to balance criticism with a strong aesthetic focus.

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The Plus: Could you take us through the concept behind this film?
Bruna Alves:
The character loses himself in the parking lot, where he can be who he really is because no-one is looking. Then he appears in the room, and dances, and it is through music that I see freedom. The model himself already breaks the paradigm of “man” by wearing a skirt, leaving aside the standards imposed by society. And this is the concept of the project: breaking the paradigm of political correctness.

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TP: And what about the music choice?
BA:
The model is a DJ and this song is one of his favourites. I thought that the music would be a good match: at first calm, a bit sombre, but at the same time for dancing, in this case electronic techno music.

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TP: Your model is very striking – what drew you to him?
BA:
Lucas Jenik has always known how to land a picture. He is openly gay, and his clothes are breaking paradigms, blending masculine, feminine, and unisex clothing – I realized that he would be the perfect role model for the project.

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TP: Why black and white?
BA:
In my opinion the colour would distract the viewer, so I opted for black and white to keep attention focused mainly on the model.

TP: The short film takes a modern approach to gender politics. How did you develop this idea?
BA:
When we sat down to photograph, Lucas asked, “What clothes do I wear?” I asked if there was anything different and he showed me the skirt. I wanted to portray gender norms, to break the politically correct restrictions on men and women. Everyone is free, and has license to dress as they wish.

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