In March 2018, we collaborated with Nohell on International Women’s Day. On that occasion, we organized a series of screening of pieces about the body, and the documentary COSMIC ASS was one of them. A few weeks later, we met with Marilou Poncin, the director of this film. At the same time, we discovered her interest in fiction and why she considers fantasies as “virtual worlds to explore”.
To help her understand why a year and a half old conversation is only coming out now, we sent her a private link to the interview. She then offered to refresh it. This article is therefore a composite between our 2018 conversation and Marilou’s recent review.
Discover the bewitching world of this French videographer, passionate about the mystery of the female body. Her art explores a virtual feminism, where the expression of her sexuality is a statement. She tells us about her exploration of desire as an artist, and her experience with censorship on mainstream platforms.
Was COSMIC ASS your first documentary?
My first and only one. I am a videographer and photographer, but I have always been very focused on fiction, not really on documentary. I think that’s why it has a somewhat hybrid shape.
Did you study art?
Yes, I studied beaux-arts in Lyon, Arts Déco in Paris and I was an exchange student at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. I went to the best art schools I could find. I recently started up a visual creation studio with a friend, Clarisse Aïn, and we are called Camp Std. We do fashion campaigns, a lot of music videos, maybe one day we’ll turn to contemporary art, we’re really interested in video installations. We’re on Instagram and Vimeo.
Vimeo sounds like an interesting platform.
A few years ago, I had a disagreement with Youtube because they deleted one of my videos. It was reported for sexual content. I fought, I appealed, I sent complaints that are available online. I managed to get them to give in by appearing before a commission and the video was put back online, but with an age restriction. On Vimeo, there’s no such thing as censorship. If there are breasts, then there are breasts. There is even semi-pornographic artistic content on Vimeo. It’s interesting to play with both platforms because they offer different things, but I must admit that after my last experience with Youtube, I kind of want to tell them “I’m staying at Vimeo”.
Yet you see half-naked women in almost every music video on YouTube today.
The perfect example: one of the last music videos of Tommy Genesis, for the song “Tommy”. She uses porn standards, she’s completely naked, it’s very provocative. I must say that I really like this video and I love the artist, but this is nonsense. How do algorithms make the difference between a music video, an ad, a porno movie and an art movie? The issue of censorship is very important today with all the media at our disposal. The fact that they delete the work of artists and do not do so for commercial films is disturbing. But more artists are using their voices to question this and that’s very good! I am thinking in particular of the work of Petra Collins, Arvida Byström or Molly Soda, who represent a new generation fighting to spread their message and show their bodies as they are.
What does your art practice look like?
I am an artist, I create situations that showcase desires and their digitization. I try to understand fantasies from a collective imagination and through our relationship to the female body. I do a lot of research on the subjects I deal with, like the practice of Twerk, cam girls, avatars on the internet…. And I merge this research with personal experiences, it is this dimension that often gives a fictional form to my images. I practice both film and photography, I have a plastic and organic relationship to these media, as if I were painting. I also like working for commissions, music videos, artist portraits, fashion campaigns… with my partner from Camp std. It’s quite varied, that’s what I like most.
What is your proudest experience as an artist, or that has influenced you the most?
It’s always difficult to answer this question. I was very proud to be selected two years in a row to join the Créteil Women’s Film Festival. It’s a great festival with international films of all kinds, I recommend it! Otherwise, of course, there have been many exhibitions that have left their mark on me, at the Tank Art Space gallery in Marseille, at the Espace Témoin in Geneva, at the Frac Île-de-France or even at La Villette this winter.
Can you tell us about your experience with Les Inrocks?
It was the first time I was selected by a festival ever. I was still at school, I had just finished the film Cosmic Ass in partnership with activist and artist Fannie Sosa. It was a student festival, which no longer exists, organized by Les Inrocks. The film had been selected, I was very proud of this first piece being officially recognized outside the school. It’s true that it was a very beautiful experience because the film had been screened at the Gaîté Lyrique and that, well that was very cool for me at the time.
In your interview with Les Inrocks, you say that your work is very much about fantasy?
The interview for Les Inrocks for this festival is now five years old but my concerns remain the same. I have always been attracted to the female body in general, its plasticity and the way it is staged. I wonder how all this sounds in a society where technology is taking up more and more space? I think the sentence that best sums up my work is that “Fantasies are virtual worlds to explore”.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, I am a feminist, but more of this new form of feminism that claims positivity and freedom of the body. This freedom to be whoever you want, and to live your femininity as you wish is everywhere in my work. I made a virtual reality video called “Let out the inner Bitch”, which features my cagole (southern French bimbo) avatar, Marilove. I think that derision can’t hurt and also it makes it possible to address these delicate and complicated issues through a provocation that resembles me and is no less powerful. I have trouble with feminism that is too serious and too repressive.
So what would be your definition of feminism?
For me, it would just be “Live your femininity as you want it, as you are”. It is a way of being comfortable in your body, in your sexuality and in the image you give of yourself. I think it’s only once you know who you are, that you can fight for your rights with the tools you have chosen or even invented.