Samaritaine has given this artist carte blanche for the holiday season. Feast your eyes on an exhibition highlighting her razor-sharp wit, with food transformed into jewelry, beauty accessories with a twist and sweet treats turned into everyday objects, or spot the special touches she's added to every space in the store. This artist uses food, fashion and humor to share her inspirations and her unique outlook.
How did you discover photography?
I was studying to become a teacher and I started taking pictures for fun. I made a series of collages using textures in unexpected ways, and it started getting attention on Instagram. I kept going in that conceptual vein, working with objects, body parts and self-portraits. My work is playful and mischievous, there's always something humorous about it!
What inspires you in your everyday life?
Everything stems from my tastes, my current preferences, objects that I use daily or food. I take inspiration from the seasons: fruits and vegetables, dead leaves in the fall, snow in winter, new growth in the spring... Even when I'm traveling, it's the plants and the natural elements around me that influence me. Sometimes finished ideas just come to me fully formed while I'm asleep or in the shower, but mostly it starts with a material element that I want to use in an unexpected way.
What do you hope to convey through your photography?
My main aim is to create something lighthearted with positive energy. Other than that, I prefer to leave things open to interpretation. I don't want to send a message or reveal too much. There's something precious and beautiful about hearing other people's interpretations, it adds layers of context and meaning.
What conventions from the worlds of fashion and beauty do you like to subvert?
I also have that seasonal aspect in my approach to fashion. I keep up with current trends, I don't always draw from them but I do research online to find out what's popular. There's this sense of identity in fashion. For example, I recreate a lot of brand logos, it's an interesting theme to think about and to subvert. I also love to play with the concepts of real and counterfeit. It's not an endorsement or a criticism, just my observations.
Are dinners and festive meals also ideas you like to explore?
I've always found inspiration in food, both cooked and raw. Grocery stores, candy stores, anywhere that sells food — I like to visit these kinds of places to find ideas. My father used to make little scenes on my plate to get me to try different foods. I use that in my work today. Playing with food doesn't necessarily mean you're wasting it! Indulgence is essential. It's about giving yourself permission to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. It's also about being curious in other ways, having a thirst for learning.
What Christmas-related elements do you like to put your own spin on?
Peppermints, wreaths, gingerbread, Christmas socks, gift wrap, letters to Santa and mistletoe, they all inspire me. All these elements are rooted in our psyche, and are already contextualized in everyone's minds.
Can you tell us about the works you've created for Samaritaine?
We were talking about indulgence and opulence, so I thought — how about a giant chandelier made of candy? A dramatic piece with a myriad of tiny objects, so the Christmas candy would look like the diamonds and pearls on a chandelier. You'll also see that I've added my own touch to the different events throughout the store, and some of my works will also be on display.
What does Samaritaine mean to you?
Everything I know about Samaritaine is synonymous with French artistry and craftsmanship: elegant, well-made pieces of the highest quality — and of course the building itself, which is so remarkable and has so much history.
Gab Bois puts her own spin on Samaritaine's iconic features
The Grand Staircase:
"The natural arrangement of the staircases really reminds me of a Christmas tree! I would cover the balustrades with greenery, then add a trunk at the bottom and a star where the last staircase and the glass roof meet — and there you have it, a giant Christmas tree spanning every floor!"
The Christmas Menu:
"I would want to reimagine different items on the menu with sequins and rhinestones! I would painstakingly pick the shape, size and color of each rhinestone to make the whole thing as realistic as possible."
The Glass Roof:
"Why not swap the wrought iron for candy canes? They look very similar to my mind!"
"I can just imagine a seat shaped like a hyper-realistic peacock, with its feathers fanned out and a place to sit right in the middle."
Exhibition, on the 1st floor, Pont-Neuf side