I spent the latter half of my teenage years, and the beginning of my twenties, scouring vibrant nightclubs on weekly expeditions looking closely at how I identified with my own gender and surrounded [myself] by people exploring theirs. For a heterosexual female – to put a label on it – working as a drag queen was a world you would struggle finding the words to explain. My experiences were largely based around improvisation both on and off stage; reacting to myself, how I felt, acknowledging the light and dark parts, the shadow in me, but most importantly the male in my female. I didn’t know where each part finished or began and this was expressed in the way I dressed, danced and interacted. There were no wrong answers.
When we sat down with LOOK/15 and DuoVision to discuss the possibility of hosting Michael James O’Brien’s Girlfriend at Constellations, the gloriousness and raw honesty that is borne [of] – but completely contradictory [to] – the person you are when you put on your make-up and Sunday best came flooding back. It’s a beautiful transition, becoming someone else to really become yourself, or – at least – the person you are at that moment. Is there a person alive who isn’t ever changing, evolving, growing?
This body of work is with thanks to fearless beings that came along to our workshop on 15.5.15.
Being able to show yourself the other side of you – the one that exists in the place you never look but is omnipresent – even if only in your own reality can be a broadening experience. The aspects of ourselves that we acknowledge and project to the outside are built on preconceptions of who we believe we really are, but if we don’t look at the whole picture how would we ever know?
I wanted to replicate this honest and momentary modification by shooting each person as they appeared in front of me. This workshop was built as a space to observe our participants’ reactions to themselves, their modes of interaction with others and the human they happened to be at the time the photograph came in to being.
Once the workshop finished, some participants stayed late in to the night developing the photographs they had starred in only hours earlier. It was a rush to develop the film and have it dry enough to enlarge from but we pushed on. The soft emulsion was delicate and manhandled in the hurry to fit everyone in. The scratches, marks and scuffs on each image are a physical representation of that immediacy, the moment, the weathering that each new experience brings and the excitement that so clearly lifted everybody from learning something new about themselves.
Photography can often be a solitary practice but it need not be that way. On 29.5.15, Ab Badwi will be holding an intergenerational camera drop in at Eclipse Dark Room. In its simplest terms, it is a great chance for you to get to know your camera a little better, but on a social level it is really an opportunity to interact with photography enthusiasts, both young and old, and familiarise yourself with techniques and equipment that you may know little about in a communal swap of skills. Come along with a grandchild, parent or friend and your new or old cameras and take part in a workshop that will provide a broad understanding of both equipment and dark room processes.
The images were shot on FujiFilm Neopan 1600 and developed at Eclipse Dark Room.
All images and words are by Vesta, Director of Art at GLORYBOX © Vesta 2015