I have been working on my transgender project for the whole of third year. I feel the work has really grown and developed in it’s way of expressing questions of identity and performance. By working on issues of gender through my final year, including my dissertation – I feel I have been able to fully submerge myself and get a deeper understanding on issues of identity and gender.
Miss Transgender UK was a good way of gaining insight into a part of the transgender community. It allowed me to meet people and network for future projects.
I developed my business skills through this module – I gained experience with publishing articles and images. Learning a lot about how to deal with ownership, copyright and negotiating what I wanted from the papers/ magazines etc.
Interviewing and talking to trans people from different backgrounds has widened my understanding of the complexities behind gender and its connections to other parts of peoples’ lives. I found recorded interviews very helpful and in the future I will try and do this as much as possible. Before Chris – I would take notes, which is distracting when in conversation with somebody – when recording, it allows you to concentrate on the person in front of you.
It was thought that for my final piece I would create a large body of portraits that people could respond to. The four accompanying portraits is a small example of this. However as discussed with Anthony this can turn into a long term project – whereby I can travel over Britain over the next 12 – 24 months, and hopefully have the outcome of an exhibition. Hopefully I will connect with more transgender people,and develop more individual stories through photography for exhibition.
I am really pleased that I decided to explore video and sound, which is a new area for me – it gave me a new passion and curosity in my own work from a technical angle. I think the progression into video and sound came from my desire to work with multi-media and really wanting the voice of the subject matter to be projected across the photography. From the point of view of communicating the issues I have been exploring, I wanted to take my work further than the classic form of documentation I had created so far. Below is a paragraph from my conclusion on ‘What is Real’ in January –
“I feel as if these past few months have scratched a surface in terms of questioning the representation of gender and the effects of this on individuals. Moving forward I want to DECONSTRUCT our preconceptions and classifications!”
I think focusing on the gaze was an integral part to this project. The gaze has an important part in the photograph and also in terms of trans issues. As mentioned before – gender has been associated with gaze, fetishising people, voyeurism and these are all aspects connected to the photographic / male (patriarchal) gaze. The moving portrait was a powerful way of highlighting ideas of control (subject matter vs camera vs audience) – the power of the gaze – as discussed in dijkstras essay and throughout my blog. Using Chris’s and Jennifer’s voice echoes what I attempt to portray when people write on their portraits. Literally giving the subject matter a direction over the tone and theme to the video, which is also emphasised by the music.
The bare , raw aesthetics of the subject matter were chosen to try and highlight the fact we are all individual and unique – that there was some honesty between the camera and the subject matter and what is to be portrayed to the audience. If Jennifer had her make up on for example, this could create a different feeling and focus the video in a different manner – also this is same with Chris and his clothes.
In terms of exhibiting my videos – I see it as a fine art installation, an open space where people can analyse and consider the issues surrounding the portraits. In a strange way, I feel the moving portraits are a mirror – not showing the viewer what is in front of them, but more so addressing viewers perceptions of gender, image and identity. Below are some sketches for ideas of layout design. The first sketch is a fairly traditional idea, the second I thought it may be strong to have two large boxes which the audience could walk into, becoming submerged in the moving portrait – almost as if they have walked into someone else stream of consciousness.
I would like these moving portraits to be exhibited for the International trans day of visibility on the 20th November – I would see it as fitting -(with companion portraits such as the four I have included in this module.) My work is about celebrating identity and gender – to acknowledge that asking questions and being curious is natural and OK but also to respect and acknowledge all humans – include those who do not ‘fit’ with peoples’ ideas of ‘normal’.
“Despite the illusion of giving understanding, what seeing through photographs really invites is an acquisitive relation to the world that nourishes aesthetic awareness and promotes emotional detachment.”
― Susan Sontag,
The above quote from Sontag can be seen to be very true within photography. But I think to be aware of the issues of photography, tourist photography as Sontag once stated is important in what type of photography you create. To truly understand a subject, a person, an area you need to take time, patience and a lot of listening. And I think this project will become stronger with time.The plans over the summer is to work in a much more collaborative manner with the likes of for example, Chris and other people I am in connection with. This last module has made me recognise the uses of photography and it’s place in a wider discussion, I am looking forward to using other tools, other mediums in relation to my photography to enhance the content, human presence and factual information.
I am looking forward to the future of my project and where else it will go.
Portfolio Box –
Set of four prints
(two small prints to keep safe)
USB stick with FINAL Moving Portrait videos. Word document with link to this blog. Links to .jpg files for four portraits.