Maxime Retailleau’s editorial for the new issue of Antidote

Article publié le 6 mai 2022

Text by Maxime Retailleau taken from Antidote’s Persona Issue (Spring-Summer 2022). Translator: Pedro Rodriguez.

« Who’s who? »

Although it originally referred to the mask worn by Roman actors in Antiquity, the term “persona,” this issue’s theme, is now of universal import. Our extensions on social media resemble so many digital masks, revealing as much of us as they conceal. “All the world’s a stage,” wrote Shakespeare, and metaverses are no exception. Fashion has in this respect been prescient, and has every intention of offering our present and future digital avatars NFTs to wear, each cooler, rarer or more beautiful than the last. 
This new expansion of the field of struggle stems from deep psychological wellsprings. In the early 20th century, psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung gave the term “persona” a fresh perspective, using it to denote the human being’s psychic capacity to adapt to the norms of the day. Rather than a pure reflection of our intimate identity, our social being is a perpetually evolving link between “id”, “ego” and “superego,” which our sartorial aspect (be it real or digital) enables us to crystalize. The result is a spectacular metamorphic ability, which, for the release of her fifth album, CRASH, the singer Charli XCX has sublimated and staged through her allegorical renaissance as a sensual and dangerous femme fatale. 
This one reinvention of identity through art echoes another, that of Marie-Pierre Pruvot, alias Bambi, who forged a renowned character of the stage through the Parisian cabarets Madame Arthur and the Carrousel. It echoes, further, the transformative gifts of Violet Chachki and Gottmik, two of the most famous drag queens on the planet. 
The real is often clad in artifice, but artifice can in turn take on the appearance of the real – in a highly ironic play of back-and-forth. Such, at any rate, is the cinematic objective of incendiary director Gaspar Noé, who delivers his strongest ode to naturalism yet with his newest film, Vortex, whose actors enjoyed great freedom to improvise. His interview is included alongside British stylist and photographer Betsy Johnson’s fashion series, whose own images highlight mise en scène and storytelling. 
The first photos in the magazine’s spring-summer 2022 issue were taken in Kyiv, on February 17, 2022. We never imagined that the invasion underway in eastern Ukraine for the past several years would in another seven days extend over the whole country. Published with the poignant accounts of Ukrainians Dasha Deriagina and Margarita Shekel, respectively the producer and assistant stylist on set, they have subsequently taken on a heart-rending and wholly unexpected political dimension. Through them Antidote wishes to reaffirm its unconditional commitment to liberty and peace.

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