The Way You Look at Me (2017 - )
Creating images of my partner and myself, I explore the nature of personal identity within an intimate relationship. The Way You Look at Me reflects upon expectations of gender expression and performativity through the lens of a queer code. I construct portraits and self-portraits possessing reciprocal and nonreciprocal gazes, calling the viewer to embody my relationship. Multiple points-of-view accompanied with gesture transform the viewing experience from voyeuristic to participatory, while atmospheric images of objects signify fleeting moments and elicit introspection. The installation emphasizes this concept as scale and vantage points vary, forcing the viewer to weave in and out of the picture plane, creating tension throughout the scene. Implementing myself as a model allows me to reference personal memories from my upbringing and the consequences of those experiences. Aware of being gay at a young age, I struggled with either accepting my true identity or conforming to masculine/feminine expectations that came with growing up Southern Baptist. I would sneak into my mother’s bedroom to wear a dress or high heels, but felt pressure to wear straight-legged jeans with plaid button-ups to construct straightness for safety from everyday life. By engaging in multiple acts of self-fashioning, I question the role of representation and true identity within photography and how this influences the act of looking at others.
Slim Non-Masc Faggot Bundles Faggots (2019)
Through the bundling of sticks - which results in a faggot - I question the word used to describe people and objects, its etymology and evolution throughout history, as well as its weight within contemporary culture. Slim Non-Masc Faggot Bundles Faggots is a performance video where I repeatedly select and bundle sticks to form faggots. The title of the scene references language used within gay culture mostly by white cis-gay men when navigating sex. In the 19th century, women made insufficient living off gathering sticks to make fires at home, gaining the title “faggot-gatherer.” In the past, many household acts such doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or repetitive household chores have been considered more feminine tasks. I use repetition as a traditionally femme act to reclaim the activity of bundling and challenge traditional gender roles within society. Using light to place emphasis on the delicacy of the nude body and its gestures when selecting sticks or tying knots, I also address standards of beauty and desire within the gay community. In the video I curate which sticks will be grouped together, breaking some down to make them fit with a particular group. These careful selections mixed with aggressive searching speak to the criticalness and unrealistic expectations gay men can place onto others to fuel their physical needs.