Olivier Ciappa is a 34 years old Frenchman, living and working in the capital city of Paris. Creative spirit as he is, he busies himself with writing, illustrating and directing. He is a sensitive, modest young man, who is touched by what happens in the world and in his surroundings. Some time ago, he decided to photograph himself and his boyfriend, sleeping with a baby. There was no strong political motive to do so. It was just Olivier’s way to express his feelings and his vision of a future where people would be judges by being people, instead of their gender and sexual preference. It was an answer to a need he felt himself, not being able to find anything like this everywhere. Sure, there are plenty of photos out there showing gay couples, but mostly done in a commercial or sexual way. After putting this photo on Facebook, the portrait started to live its own life. Countless people liked it and it wasn’t for long that Olivier saw his picture being used for rallies and manifestations fighting for equal rights. Both in France as outside her borders.
Amazed and touched by the unexpected success of his photo, Olivier Ciappa decided to take his concept a step further. If he himself with his partner could make such an impact, what if he could create similar portraits using celebrities. People that are known and that other people identify themselves with. To actually really make a statement. And so Olivier set out on a quest to recruit famous French people. And he did it the correct way, appealing to managers and agencies. He did this for 2 months, but why patiently waiting for positive results, all he got was negative answers. Not being the one to take no for an answer, and strongly believing in his concept, Olivier Ciappa made the bold decision to take things in his own hands. For the next 9 months he went to concert stages, theaters and television studios. He waited hours outside the artist entrances, found ways to get backstage and infiltrated in TV shows. Olivier was on a mission to meet his wanted celebrities in person, and when he did so and explained his idea and the wish to work with them, not one person said no. And so Olivier Ciappa came to the creation of his Couple Imaginaires (Imaginary Couples): a collection of stunning close up portraits of fictional same sex couples and families.
Now we won’t tell you something new when we state that the fight for equality is a hot item. Recently in France the law passed that places gay men and women at the same legal level as their heterosexual equals. Same sex couples can marry now, and also have the right to adopt. But this was not an easy victory, and still now there are many opponents. Hatred is still very much alive. The fight was won but the battle is not over yet. And this is France only. There are still many, many countries that are far from reaching this goal. Where equality is far from being discussed, as homosexuality is reason for torture and dead penalty.
Olivier Ciappa’s Couples Imaginaires has become more than a collection of beautiful portraits. The photographs of celebrities mixed with images of non-celebrities, have become a symbolic manifestation of what equality is all about. When he finalized his first set of photos, Olivier approached the Parisian government and secured multiple exhibitions in several local town halls. And once again, success followed immediately. Though initially planned for only a few weeks, the exhibition has been prolonged to several months and as of September Couple Imaginaire will go nation wide. And not just that, the portraits will also be used in a much more impressive way, covering the facades of monumental buildings in larger than life canvas prints. And there is more.
Coming Fall Olivier Ciappa’s Couple Imaginaires will go international. His already famous portraits will visit countries where homosexuality and equality is far from being accepted. The additional portraits of those same celebrities holding a sign on which they make their personal statement supporting the equality law will be a strong annexation. His photographs will be displayed outside, hanging on gates of international embassies, forcing the public and politicians to see and realize what this is all about. Equality is not a degradation of values. It is not opening the door to pedophilia, polygamy and incest, as some like to believe. What it is, and what it always has been, is the recognition of peoples’ individual nature, their right to live their lives in such a way that suits them and makes them happy. To recognize people fro what they are: people.
For his international installment Olivier Ciappa still needs some help. Though armed with a stunning collection of photos that showcase imaginary couples featuring celebrities, most of those celebrities are French. For his international leg Olivier now wants to have access to international celebrities. People who are willing to take this stand, who know that their celebrity status gives them the responsibility to help, support and lead the way. If you are a celebrity, if your friends are or if you have in any way access to people who have the power to make such a statement, please contact Olivier Ciappa through his website. The cause is noble, but also very necessary. –BM-
An international auction will be held in which everyone interested can purchase Olivier Ciappa Couples Imaginaire photographs. The auction will be held by www.aides.org, which is also the beneficiary of all royalties.
Featuring from top to bottom, left to right: Anonymous: Olivier Caippa [photographer/director/writer] & partner | Thérèze Clerc [feminist activist ] & Monique Isselé [feminist activist ] | real couple with daughter | Axelle Laffont [actress] & Anne Marivin [actress] | Olivier Sitruck [actor/producer] & François Vincentelli [actor] | Marianne James [songwriter/performer/actress] | Roselyne Bachelot [politician] & Audrey Pulvar [journalist] | François-Xavier Demaison & Antoine de Caunes [actors] | Florent Manaudou [swimmer] & Frédérick Bousquet [swimmer] | Eva Longoria [actress] & Lara Fabian [singer] | Emanuelle Moire [actor/singer] | Julie Gayet [actress] | François-Xavier Demaison & Antoine de Caunes [actors] | Jenifer [singer].
OLIVIER CIAPPA | BEAUTIFULMAG