Polite Society

Sweet Nothings (Whispering)
Take a Bow (Formal Introductions)
The Possibility of Intimacy
On the Horn (Evil Speaking)

   In her series, Polite Society, Bissonnette juxtaposes etiquette and social codes with images of human sexual expression, highlighting their frequent incompatibility, and exploring the disconnections between how we desire to act, and how we act out of desire.


   In the piece "The Possibility of Intimacy (Manners Maketh Man)", the artist poses questions about our expectations for social performance, as well as modes of dress and the Victorian ideal of “comeliness.” A reclining male nude invites the viewer— female, male or otherwise—in for closer inspection, asking for consideration of what lies beneath the male social exterior.


   "On the Horn (Evil Speaking)" examines social expectations of gender— specifically, the Victorian ideal that women maintain grace at all times, and not speak in a foul manner. In doing so, the artist questions society’s demands regarding female behavior across a range of interpersonal scenarios—as wives, mothers, friends, or sexual partners—raising issues of gender performativity, ownership and control of the body, and the concept of the “arousal of interest.” 


By Jeremy Faro