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Category: Politics

Gender Identity and Breaking and Dissolving Barriers

Posted in Documentary Photography, Gender Identity, Identity, Memories, Personal Work, Politics, and Portraiture

A few weeks ago I went to The First Daedalus Sharing where The Black Smock Band performed and Daedalus Theatre presented current works.

I met Alex Swift an actor who has been starting a new piece of work called Travesty. I was instantly struck by the piece as he was performing in drag and questioning gender constructs. The reason why this gripped me so much was for the last year and a half I have been shooting and thinking around a body of work on gender and identity. I met with Alex yesterday and hope to do a shoot with him and to tell his narrative for this piece. Not giving away too much right now but hope to share this in the coming months.

Fundamentally this work is about pushing past the demarcations and systems set up for us around our gender identity and as Alex put it yesterday, ‘dissolving those barriers’ to get people thinking and challenging their preconceptions. I am interested in discussions around these issues as this body of work will involve a person’s narrative, experiences and stories in text to go alongside the stills. I will be recording interviews as I hope to incorporate that element to produce a mutimedia piece. I am hoping to push at the boundaries/barriers and hope this work stimulates a lot of thought for those that see it.

I’m always looking for sitters who are interested in taking part in this project. Feel free to field some questions my way as it is constantly evolving and I know I have only partially explained it here – do get in touch!

Fragrant Harbour

Posted in Documentary Photography, Identity, Personal Work, and Politics

Whilst I am reminiscing about cities; I was in Hong Kong last November working on a personal documentary project. I photographed workers and small business owners and asked them what had changed in the city recently and how their livelihoods were affected.

This was a deeply personal trip as the last time I visited was more than a decade ago when I was a young faced seventeen year old. My ancestral roots are in Hong Kong and I still have family over there. I remember a distinct feeling of having ‘arrived home’ when I set foot in the congested streets of Mong Kok which was odd, as I was born in and had grown up in the UK. The questions I was asking myself were based on identity, cultures and clashes and were things I had been working on for a long while. It was that pervasive feeling of not quite having a full foot in your home culture but also not tallying with the UK ‘English’ culture completely either. This is a theme I am drawn towards as a photographer – the idea of liminal spaces in terms of identity, emotions or physical concrete space itself:

lim·i·nal/ˈlimənl/
Adjective:

  1. Of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Hong Kong was one of those places that got under my skin. The incessant noise, the intense crowds, the pollution and the overarching capitalism knocking alongside extreme poverty really irritated me. Did I answer my personal questions? I guess I did. I have always held the answer even before I went to Hong Kong. I occupied a very special boundary of dual cultures that gave me a very beautiful unique perspective. In Hong Kong, I wasn’t a foreigner as I spoke Cantonese and grew up partially with a Cantonese culture at home and appeared to be Hong Kong Chinese but neither was I a native. I couldn’t be categorized but this was a very good thing. It took a flight across to the other side of world to realise this. Funny that, I’m sure there are cheaper ways to find this out!

I know there are many sides of Hong Kong I didn’t see or experience. I wasn’t there long enough to feel that I got to know it or its people well enough. I know I will return there again, it just is a question of when.

Here are a number of shots from the trip to give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong as well as the portraits I mention above: