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The Instagram spotlighting cult horror’s most deviant femmes

Meet the collective behind @lesfemmespsychotiques, @dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week

Females from all four corners of the globe came together to make up the six-piece feminist collective behind @dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week, @lesfemmespsychotiques. Born from a mutual appreciation for dark femininity, the account was started by two friends: Shelbi, an artist, photographer and poet, and Wiliana, a psychology student and film enthusiast, who’ve now enlisted friends based between Boston, New York, Jakarta, Athens and London as contributors.

Inspired by In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism and the Gothic by Michelle Massé – who dissects the theme of masochism as part of the female identity – the group also known as House of Psychotic Women. The latter taking its name from an autobiographical style exploration of the way female neurosis is portrayed in horror films.

Since it started, @lesfemmespsychotiques has been on a mission to expose its audience to female-orientated media by women it feels are underexposed. Think stills from violent and erotic Japanese cinema – Tokyo Decadence, School of the Holy Beast – girl-on-girl intimacy via cult horrors like Vampyros Lesbos, and the odd familiar face or two from Helmut Newton’s women, to Fairuza Balk and Rose McGowan.

Here, we talk to the collective behind the House of Psychotic Women about its references and how the account came about. 

Who are you?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: We are a collective of women living around the world. Shelbi (@amourfouineyes) lives in New York, Wiliana (@malutianshi) in Jakarta, Jessica (@la.belle.otero) in Boston, Emily (@evilaughing) in Athens, Max (@maxcherrie) in London, Fernie (@allthecolorsofthedark_) in LA, and various other contributors. 

What do you do? 

@lesfemmespsychotiques: We are artists, lovers, archivists, and collectors of film. Work-wise, we all do a myriad of things. We’re students, feminists, and working women. Shelbi is an artist, photographer and poet, Max Cherrie (@theporcelaincradle) and Fernie are both filmmakers, Emily is a VHS collector/trader (@eroterror), Williana is a psychology student and film enthusiast, and Difan who contributes from Shanghai works for Shanghai Community Radio (@shcr_radio).

How would you describe your account?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Hysterical, perverted, ecstatic, depressed, dead inside, cruel. We are interested in the dark feminine and neurosis.

What made you start @lesfemmespsychotiques?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Shelbi was inspired by House of Psychotic Women by Kier-la Janisse and In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism and the Gothic. That, and the fact that there’s not a strong enough representation of ‘deviant’ women on Instagram, or women exhibiting emotions or behaviours that are deemed ‘inappropriate’ or wrong, based on society’s patriarchal standards.

Do you have an archive of materials stored up?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Yes, most of us met through Tumblr so we have years of archives. Otherwise, we have images we’ve collected, film stills from movies we watch, and so on.

What are some of your favourite images you’ve ever posted?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Thisthisthisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this.

Where do you source your content?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Original screencaps, film websites, magazines and books.

What do your references reveal about you?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: That women in art, music and films matter, they aren’t given enough credit. We’re trying to expose people to media involving women who are not credited or exposed enough. We want women and femmes to feel inspired, or less alone. 

Who are your favourite artists? 

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Chiharu Shiota, Louise Bourgeois, Aquirax Uno, Ana Mendieta, Niki de Saint Phalle, Ruth Asawa, Tamara de Lempicka, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Tyra Kleen, Unica Zürn, Vali Myers, Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Leonor Fini, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. And photographers like: Miyako Ishiuchi, Sarah Moon, Daidō Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki, Carrie Mae Weems, Imogen Cunningham, Gertrude Käsebier, Tina Modotti, Eikoh Hosoe, Lee Miller, Dora Kallmus, Deborah Turbeville, Lillian Bassman, Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Mika Ninagawa, Zhang Jingna, Man Ray, Hans Bellmer, and Edward Steichen.

What about directors?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Liliana Cavani, Lina Wertmüller, Werner Schroeter, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Anna Biller, Vera Chytilova, Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Walerian Borowcyzk, Andrzej Zulawski, Luis Bunuel, and Peter Strickland.

Who are your favourite women throughout history?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Jun Togawa, Nina Simone, Lina Romay, Elizabeth Bathory, Marchesa Casati, La Belle Otero, Lizzie Siddal, Misia Sert, Bettie Page, and Delphine Seyrig.

“We’re trying to expose people to media involving women who are not credited or exposed enough. We want women and femmes to feel inspired, or less alone” – @lesfemmespsychotiques

If @lesfemmespsychotiques was a character in a film, who would it be?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Meiko Kaji, Mary in Femina Ridens, because she fully embraces her intelligence and power, yet makes use of stereotypes in order to ultimately subvert them and achieve her ends. 

Which films best sum up your aesthetic?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: Funeral Parade of Roses, Vampyros Lesbos, the Female Prisoner Scorpion series, Helter Skelter (2012) and Rampo Noir.

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?

@lesfemmespsychotiques: @womenandfilm, @experimentalfilmsociety, @girlsinfilm_gif,, @carapomegranatemolasses, and @godimsuchadyke.