Gigi was a 60’s French pop star. This proto music video of her song was directed by Jean-Luc Godard. But did she really exist?…
Josh Gosfield (painter, photographer, illustrator and videographer) has assembled the definitive archive devoted to the 1960s French pop star Gigi Gaston. Gigi’s music and the spectacle of her tragic life riveted the public through the 60s and 70s. The exhibition documents her life and loves with archival photographs, posters, record covers, magazine and newspaper articles, a music video shot by Jean Luc Godard, documentary footage, and assorted ephemera. We see her Gypsy family’s escape from Bulgaria, her affair with her stepbrother, her first guitar, her rise up (and fall down) the charts, the car crashes, funerals, love triangles and the murder trial. All this played out in a garish media spotlight before the insatiable eyes of her public.
As Norman Mailer wrote, in a 1974 Esquire story: “Could this Black Flower with a voice like Piaf have guessed that when she bloomed into a teenage singing idol for post-war European youth, and later became the Continental fashion icon and sexy French pin-up girl on the bedroom walls of the hippest kids, that the future would strangle her dreams of normalcy, like the protagonists in one her romantically fatalistic songs? No, of course not. Because the characters of Greek tragedies are always the last to know their fates.”
We see Gaston’s first 45, Je Suis Ici (Où es-tu?), which sold two million copies in 1961 and changed everything. We see her third single, L’Etranger, which stirred Françoise Hardy to exclaim, “The more I heard it the more upset I became. I actually thought about quitting the business. But in the end I could not let her show me up.” We see Gigi on the covers of 60s periodicals Tutta Musica, Flamme, Strip, Pop Weekly, New Musical Express, Jour de France, Photoplay, Fabulous, and more. Gaston was the poster girl for Gitane. Her marriage to Italian film star Giorgio Fortuna was on the cover of Paris Match. When that marriage descended into infidelity and murder, the trial was a worldwide sensation.
In fact Gigi Gaston did not exist. Her persona and all her documents are the fictional creation of Josh Gosfield working with the aid of actors, stylists, make up artists, and Photoshop. This exhibition can leave you wondering if Madonna exists. How do you know?