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Raphaëlle Bessette-Viens

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Hi, my name is Raphaëlle Bessette-Viens (they/them) and I am a trans* filmmaker and PhD student of white settler descent. I was born and raised in Gatineau, on the unceded territory of the Algonquin-Anishinabeg Nation and I am currently pursuing a PhD in interdisciplinary humanities at Concordia University, situated on the unceded lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation in Tio’tiá:ke/Montreal. I hold a BA in political science (Université de Montréal), MA in Gender Studies (Université de Genève) and a MA in Visual Anthropology (Université Paris Nanterre). Working across documentary and experimental film, my work has been shown at festivals such as Premier Regards – Festival International Jean Rouch (Paris), Festival International du Film Ethnographique du Québec and Festival de la Poésie (Montréal/Tio’tiá:ke). In addition to being involved in AIM Lab’s steering committee, I am an active member of Concordia’s Feminist Media Studio and Center for Sensory Studies. My PhD is supported by an SSHRC scholarship.  

My research-creation project, situated at the intersections of trans* studies, critical disability studies, science and technology studies and research-creation, focuses on the parallel and connected practices of trans* embodiment and experimental filmmaking. I explore the ways various forms of trans* embodiments are enacted through engagements with prosthetics, undergarments and sex-toys (binders, breast forms, tucking underwear, packing, stand-to-pee devices, strap-on dildos, etc.). Through experimental filmmaking I examine how techniques of animation and process cinema can help to think of the material and processual aspects of ‘transing’. What can experimental film practices and trans* engagements with these artifacts teach us about the body in its relation to materials? About ideas of health, disability, and gender? How are the techniques and practices of embodiment, of image making and of research related?  

I recognize that certain fields with which I think my project have made and continue to make direct and peripheral appropriations of indigenous philosophies, while these have been and continue to be pathologized and deligitimized. More funding for reserve schools, hiring of indigenous teachers from turtle island in universities, and settler’s accountability to the principle of non-interference are steps that need to be taken in order to support indigenous knowledges in the ongoing colonial context of Turtle Island.