Updates on a new long term project about gender and the research that went into it

I can’t believe how rubbish I’ve been at keeping this blog updated. Since my last post in June 2012 (!!!) so many things have happened that I’m struggling to know where to start….I feel like I’ve been talking way too much already about what I’m just about to say, but here you go:

I was extremely lucky to have my work online noticed by an Italian curator working in France who commissioned me a new series of photographs for my first solo exhibition.


The curator, Santi Oliveri, is the art director of a lovely gallery in Marseille.
The gallery is running a five years course of  exhibitions on the theme of borderline. Each year this theme is approached from a different perspective and  this year is focusing on borderline gender.
Until now the picked exhibitors were already exploring the yearly theme in their practice, but Santi decided to shake things up a bit and, on the basis of my previous portrait work, he decided to commission me to do a project  on a subject I knew nothing about. Needless to say that he’s a brave man and I’m very grateful for the trust that he put in me.

Around the same time, after almost two years of freelancing, I settled down for a 9 months full-time contract as a studio assistant at the Worx studios (more about this in another post).

Working full-time and shooting at the weekend for the exhibition has proved to be quite a challenge, but I really enjoyed the whole process and I’m quite happy with the photographs.

When I started working on this project, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach such a wide and complex theme as borderline gender and I simply put an ad looking for androgynous people (I know, a rather silly starting point, wasn’t it?).

I had a vague idea that it may be interesting to involve trans* people in this project, but my ignorance on the subject was pretty abysmal and I didn’t know any trans* person in the UK.

Luckily, a wonderful trans man got back to me and I was able to talk with someone in the know about my doubts. It was very nice of him to help me out at the beginning, but I also realised that trans* people get asked the same questions over and over again and it can get quite annoying, so I decided to carry out my research in many different ways to avoid pestering people with inappropriate questions.

The internet is a wonderful thing and you can find a whole deal of information if you can be bothered to look for them.
I also got a simple little book (Transgender 101: a simple guide to a complex issue)  that I highly recommend if you know NOTHING about the subject and you want to learn the basics (I always carried it around with me until I memorised what I needed to know if in doubt).

The more I found out about gender, the more I became interested in the subject and I’m now rather obsessed with this project, so I decided to keep working on it also after the exhibition. My friends are sick of me talking about trans* topics 24/7, so I decided to write about it here 🙂

I also set up a tumblr account here where I reblog posts regarding gender and I occasionally put some original content (mainly photos), please check it out if you’re interested in the subject.

My research wasn’t confined to the internet, I also looked around to find places where I could meet trans* people. I’m so glad to be living in London! Here there’s quite a lively and active trans* community, full of great people who I probably would have never met if it wasn’t for this project.

One of the key places in the queer scene is the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where every Tuesday Bar Wotever, a great free queer night, is held. The atmosphere is very chilled and super welcoming to people of any age, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.
It’s indeed a lovely place   and the event organizer, Ingo,  was kind enough to host me on stage for a brief talk about photography.
It was the first time I had to do some public speaking since university and I was rather nervous, but the audience was brilliant and it was a nice experience after all.
If you fancy having a giggle at my awkwardness while trying to deliver a talk, you can watch it on youtube here.

Another cool place open to everyone, but mostly tailored for trans*, queer and gender non conforming folks, is Open Barbers, a hairdressing service for all genders and sexualities led by Greygory and Felix.
They run weekly ‘Hang Out Mondays’ for appointments from 7pm within a wider, welcoming social space (and I’m shamelessly cutting and pasting from their website because they’re much better at writing than me ^_^)

The Test Shot, a fantastic online visual project/blog celebrating transmasculine style, made a cool video about Open Barbers that you can watch on Vimeo here.

If you’re in for a bit of a dance, you can’t miss the T club a monthly event run by Stav B at Dalston Superstore. The T club is “a club for trans, genderqueers and all in between with their women and men as guests. It’s a hub full of fun, mingling, dancing, performing, watching and costume dressing for the T lovelies and their friends in a safe and queer environment, celebrating gender diversity”
The night is great fun and, if you’re lucky, you may be snapped by talented photographer Leng Montgomery.

Collaborating with trans* people was a key element of my approach to this project and I also wanted to give back to the community, so, before I started working full-time, I attended an induction meeting at Gendered Intelligence to start volunteering with them.
Unfortunately working full-time and shooting at the weekends left me literally no time for anything and I had to give up on the idea of volunteering until the end of my contract.
I am looking forward to have more time to collaborate with Gendered Intelligence because I’m a big fan of this organisation.
They offer:

If you’re in London and you’d like to volunteer with them, you can find more info here.
Otherwise you can become a friend and set up a monthly (or an on off) donation to the association here.

I’ve got to go now, but hopefully I’ll bring myself to write another post sooner than later and I will talk more about how I developed this project.


2 thoughts on “Updates on a new long term project about gender and the research that went into it

  1. It’s all amazing and inspirational how this project makes you plunge in a whole different experience…

  2. Pingback: Anima Animus: The Genesis (or how I shot a lot just to find out what I was meant to do) | It's beautiful here, isn't it?

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