“Anna”: a unique photographic project about transidentity and the power of friendship

One is a photographer, the other a stylist and model. Chloé Besnard and Anna Flandrin sign together Annaa work that mixes photos, texts and administrative documents with one intention: to tell trans-identity in the light of a beautiful friendship† An intimate and sensitive story to raise awareness and report on a reality that is still too often passed on to the ray of social taboos. Met.

Photo: Chloe Besnard

It’s a beautiful and powerful story of friendship that Chloé Besnard, photographer, and her friend Anna Flandrin, now a model and stylist, wanted to share. The two young women met in 2015 when they were studying at the Saint-Luc Tounai school in Belgium. “I studied photography and video in a higher education and Anna was still in high school”, says Chloe Besnard. For a freshman project, the student photographer should tackle the “male/female” theme and think of Anna, whom she doesn’t know but who she had “already spotted in the school corridors” because of her androgynous look. One day, the young photographer approaches her future model in the smoking room of the establishment. “I went to extreme lengths and asked her if she would mind taking a picture with me. † Anna agrees. And what should only be a school photo project becomes the beginning of a beautiful story of friendship.

“This project became my project at the end of the first year and since we never stopped taking pictures, it was also my project at the end of my studies, we were obsessed with our images. †

Chloe Besnard

“As time went on, we got closer and closer. We brought each other a lot, it took years”confides Anna for her part who addresses us on the occasion of the upcoming release ofAnnaa book about these photo shoots, all accompanied by explanatory texts, on the border of a diary, to dig into the thoughts of the photographer and the model.

“In the beginning we had no idea to make a book out of it”explains Anna. “Everything happened organically, naturally, without thinking about it. † Chloé Besnard confirms that the photos played more of the role of “pretext” to their friendship. It was a way for them to tame each other and for Anna to gain confidence for a completely different project: that of her transition.

Photo: Anna Flandrin and Chloé Besnard

Photos never seen

“What’s written in this book isn’t really me… it’s a lot of my pain and sorrow. But it’s a project I wanted to do for my community, for other queer people, for people to talk about it more. Growing up, I thought it might help, make (me) me think… It’s a bit of a bottle overboard for me”

Anna Flandrin

Chloé Besnard and Anna Flandrin started this book project in 2020. “We had already discussed it a bit together, but after an interview with Vice, who asked us about a book, we talked about it again. I suggested we try to share these five years worth of photos, because no one had ever seen them except at school. †

The two friends first tried to give birth to their book thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, but the funds needed to produce the book were not raised within the allotted time. Finally, financing is now possible thanks to a bank loan. “My bank supports me and wants to ‘join’ and ‘help’ in a social and cultural project like mine”reports Chloe Besnard.

An encouraging win for this project that has been criticized by part of the trans community. In question ? Some people see it as a marketing takeover of an LGBTQ+ subject from a cisgender person (i.e., whose gender matches the gender assigned to them at birth). The photographer denies it: “We didn’t have in mind to tell Anna’s story to make money! †

“I started my transition around 2015, when there weren’t really transicons in the media yet. Today it’s starting to change.”

Anna Flandrin

Photo: Chloe Besnard

Women first

If any awkwardness of use can be noted in the book by the most devoted of us, the content remains instructive while being intimate and sensitive. “The layout of the book allows us to take into account our two points of view”details of the photographer. “We just want to show that these stories exist, that these people exist and that anything can work out if society works on it. †

Anna Flandrin galore: “Our project is about sharing, it’s not about expressing it absolutely, even though I remain humble and humble because my story is that of many other trans women and men. But it’s also a Chloé story. Our meeting as we come from different backgrounds. She is a cis woman and I am trans, but we are first and foremost women. †

The publication of Anna, a work by Chloé Besnard and Anna Flandrin, is scheduled for March 31, during the Urban exhibition at the Condition Publique in Roubaix. You can pre-order the book on Chloé Besnard’s website. Sales price: 45 euros. Delivery from April 1, 2022.

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