Jane Avril by Toulouse Lautrec - an alarmed figure in a black dress and red feathered headpiece is arching her back away from a snake, whose head is by her chest

Animating Toulouse Lautrec

Find out how Aida Naasan Agha Spyridopoulou turned Toulouse Lautrec designs into animations for Europeana's Digital Storytelling Festival Creative Online Residency.

Aida Naasan Agha Spyridopoulou

In May-June 2023, eight participants took part in the first ever Online Creative Residency from Europeana’s Digital Storytelling Festival. They worked with mentors in animation, social media stories and new writing relating to LGBTQ+ culture and communities. Aida Naasan Aga Spyridopoulou animated images by Toulouse Lautrec. Enjoy her animations and find out more about Aida below.

I'm scared in love GIF, by Ayda Naasan Agha Spyridopoulou, 2023. Based on 'Jane Avril' by Toulouse Lautrec, 1899, published by Albertina, Vienna, Austria, public domain.

Good Morning Bonjour GIF, by Ayda Naasan Agha Spyridopoulou, 2023. Based on 'L'Artisan Moderne - Objets d'art, meubles, ensembles decoratifs' by Toulouse Lautrec, 1894, published by Albertina, Vienna, Austria, public domain.

Jane Avril GIF, by Ayda Naasan Agha Spyridopoulou, 2023. Based on 'Jane Avril' by Toulouse Lautrec, 1893, published by Albertina, Vienna, Austria, public domain.

About the animator

Who am I?

My name is Aida, and I am a student and an aspiring audiovisual artist. I have a unique background as both Greek and Syrian, which has shaped my perspective and fueled my need to rediscover my cultural heritage.

Why did I apply to the Digital Storytelling Online Creative Residency?

When I applied for the residency, my primary goal was to connect with creative individuals and embark on a collective journey of growth and learning. I sought guidance and support to expand my artistic skills and knowledge.

What have I got out of the residency?

To my delight, the residency surpassed my expectations, becoming an incredibly significant and fulfilling experience. During this residency, I had the wonderful opportunity to create a cultural token of Queer Heritage. Though it may be small and imperfect, it holds the power to convey my personal narrative and serves as a significant milestone in the acknowledgement of an inner need for belonging to a queer culture. It was during this time that I truly sensed the significance of Queer Heritage. The gratitude I feel for the chance to explore and create within the nurturing environment provided by the residency is immeasurable. This transformative experience has profoundly enriched my artistic practice, enabling me to embrace and celebrate my diverse background with pride and joy.

I participated in the animation residency of Europeana, where my project centres around the exploration of Toulouse Lautrec's posters featuring Jane Avril and the vibrant cabaret scene of that era. Using the resources of Europeana's extensive archive, I found creativity in the concept of transtextuality and delved into the queer life of the people of the cabaret scene. I read papers, articles, blogs and at the same time I slowly crafted my animated GIFs.

My GIFs are not amazing works of art, but they are my land, they are my time and space. They are performed within a period of time, in my exhausting, mortal state of mind and my limited resources. And they are quite personal. I wish to have breakfast in the morning with a queer lover, fall in love and feel scared for taking the risk, or perform a sexy, fun, intricate dance.

Where might I go from here?

As for the future of my project, I intend to continue exploring and expanding upon these themes and concepts. I am eager to further examine the nuances of the 'male gaze' and transtextuality within art and culture. Additionally, I am open to the possibility of branching out into other artistic endeavours that allow me to explore in childlike wonder and love.