I am currently working on an portrait project exploring androgyny that was sparked after a recent portrait shoot I did a few weeks ago with Faunlet. I received a fair amount of feedback from viewers asking if the subject was male or female and this caused me to look at androgyne as a very powerful social topic in the gender binary.
Androgyne is a non-binary gender category. The gender binary is the grouping of sex and gender into separate and disconnected categories of masculine and feminine; sex being the biological fact of male/female while gender is the characteristics that a society delineates as masculine and feminine. The project explores people with a single gender who have a combination of both masculinity and femininity in their physical appearance. Androgynes may identify as pangender, ambigender, non-gender, agender, gender fluid or intergender and is something that is not always related to sexual orientation. Androgynous manifestations can be either physical or psychological and is independent of birth sex. Some argue that the gender binary divides and polarizes society by creating social boundaries that discourage the mixing of gender roles while others feel it creates order.
I believe that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has an internal blending of masculinity and feminity which creates a “gender ying yang” if you will. In Chinese philosophy the ying yang is used to describe how opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. The yin and yang can be thought of as complementary forces instead of opposing, creating something where the whole is greater than the parts and exemplifying how they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities such as light and shadow are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang. Either of the two major aspects in the gender ying yang may manifest more strongly depending on the framework of judgement, but the physical manifestation reveals the merging of the two.
The subjects are a mix of people who identify with different sexual orientations and genders, breaking assumptions based on stereotypes of homosexuality, heterosexuality and gender. As the work develops I want viewers to try and look beyond gender classification and question the way they see current cultural gender frameworks and beauty. How does social pressures in the gender binary effect identity and in the larger scope, the treatment of others? How has sexuality taken shape through the gender binary? Is there power in andorgyne? I once heard someone say that androgyne makes the sexually insecure uncomfortable. Is this true? Is it beyond the scope of belief that our attractions are not fixed but fluid; that they are a complex characteristic within us that have been influenced by the gender binary? If so, how does androgyne fit into this?
What are your thoughts? Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments section. If your interested in sitting for the project please contact me through email.
Credits: Make up by Leah Sarah Bassett
This was one of those, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this”, type assignments. I met Bert Straus at his house in Baltimore to photograph him with this twin 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s. We spent the afternoon cruising some back roads around his house and then stopped at a near by location for a few photos of the cars. It was a real treat.
I recently finished up a marathon darkroom session and will be showing new work for the Natural Hair Project soon. Pictured, model Briana Mumford from T.H.E Artists. All of the recent cold weather has given me a great excuse to hunker down in the studio and shoot.
Last weekend we had amazing weather so when Al Rogers swung through the studio, we went up to the roof to soak up some sun. An impromptu portrait session started and afterwards, Al went into a freestyle that was captured on video by friend Daniel St. Ours. We will be releasing a collaboration in the coming months.
Al just release a new song thats featured on RESPECT ‘s website, its a must listen.