Meet Michele Bisaillon, the Instagram artist taking selfies to surreal heights.
By Randi Bergman
The silver lining of selfie culture is that it’s created some pretty great art. Take, for instance, Michele Bisaillon of @michel_e_b, whom has created some of the most beautifully curious photos on Instagram we’ve seen of late. Using mostly artfully placed mirrors, flowers and her cat Peach, the Silicon Valley-based artist blends old-fashioned visual trickery with Instagram-era introspection. Shot mostly in her dad’s bathroom or on her driveway, Bisaillon’s ‘grams speak to our need for self(ie) acceptance. We caught up with her to learn more.
Where do you stage your shots? It looks like you have the ultimate bathroom…
I do take a lot of photos in the bathroom. It’s actually my dad’s bathroom. My uncle laid the white tile you see in a lot of my photos. I obviously like that bathroom a lot. I take a lot of photos in my driveway as well. Most of the concrete you see in my photos is the concrete in my driveway. I take mirrors with me pretty much everywhere I go just in case I get inspired somewhere away from home. I usually have at least 3 mirrors in my car at any given moment.
How many mirrors do you own?
I think I probably have around 60 or so, that’s including really tiny mirrors from craft stores, but to be honest I’ve never counted. When I think back on it I realize that I’ve noticed mirrors for a long time. I really enjoyed using telescopes from a young age and I often noticed how cinematographers would use mirrors in movies. I always found it really incredible how so many shots include mirrors without any hint of a camera or crew. I wanted to know how to manipulate mirrors and cameras that way.
A lot of the shots are close-ups of your body, is there any underlying meaning there?
I think a lot of that has to do with a desire for self-acceptance. I often look in the mirror and don’t like what I see. It makes me feel good to create an image of myself that boosts my confidence. I think we all deal with certain amounts of body dysmorphia, I know I have, and I find it empowering to use the mirror in retaliation to that. Like, even if I think I see something in the mirror looking at it one way, I can switch it up and see something different if I choose to.
Does your cat, Peach, always co-operate?
He usually does. To be honest it’s not his favorite thing to do, like he’d rather be eating or lying around somewhere, but he really doesn’t mind too much. He has never scratched me or bit me. He does sometimes whine though. Usually I set up the photo ahead of time and position everything so that I can just get him and take a quick photo. I would say most of the photos with him take about an hour tops, and most of that time is me setting the shot up without him.
What do you do outside of the account?
Right now I nanny 8 different kids throughout the week. It’s taught me so much. Toddlers are amazing. They’re equal parts crazy and sane, mean and loving. They’re concentrated versions of their future adult selves. It’s incredible to be part of someone’s childhood like that. I really think of it as a privilege. We’re all completely unique from the day we’re born.
What do mirrors signify for you? They seem to have an interesting context within our so-called narcissistic generation.
To me they signify another perspective, a world you might not have access to if you were only looking straight ahead. It reminds me that there are endless different ways to see things. Many of us might think of the mirror only as a way to see ourselves, but in truth we use them for so much more. They assist us in so many ways. They keep us safe (cars) and they offer information we wouldn’t have without them (telescopes). They remind us how important it is to reflect. Where would we be without mirrors?
Visit Michele’s account at @michel_e_b.