“Genuine stories are what can bring us closer together, not people talking over the heads and in the name of others.”
Why do you think that life is a performance?
As I was growing up, I always felt like I was performing, acting as someone else. And still now that I’m older, there are days when I feel like I lost a little part of myself or times when I’m not sure who I am anymore. I performed for 18 years of my life, always adapting to others, to the spaces I was living in, pretending that I was someone I wasn’t.
Not so long ago, I went on a trip with my best friend. She’s a girl and it’s just too funny, because everyone thought that we are a couple. It’s only because society is built on these patterns, these preconceptions that evolve into expectations. In this case, it was a very interesting camouflage, honestly, since it made me able to dress and act however I wanted and still operate under the disguise of a heteronormative social setting.
What’s your take on inclusivity within the queer community?
When I started off, I was mainly exploring masculinities therefore most of the people I photographed at the time were men or people who identify as men. Deconstructing the idea of masculinity, denouncing the rules of how to be a man was something that yet again came from my own background.
It’s important to me to work only with what I know well enough. I want to be very honest with my art and this is only possible if I reflect on things that resonate with me on a personal level. Nowadays, I’m trying to find narratives that are a bit more fictional, to get that extra space and freedom that is needed to get into new territories, new identities and accepting the fluidity of them.
Sharing your own stories and finding out that it carries a meaning for people you never met or talked to, complete strangers, is a beautiful thing. Genuine stories are what can bring us closer together, not people talking over the heads and in the name of others. Especially, since photography can so easily turn into a tool of violence.
How do you imagine the normalisation of queerness in the mainstream?
Queerness is a surface and when I see big brands being part of the Pride and making big statements, I always think it’s cool, because it gives more visibility, but at the same time it doesn’t solve any of the issues we are facing. Public space is still very unsafe and there are still a lot of countries where queer people are suffering and even dying only because they’re queer. I think gestures and visibility are important, but you just can’t change people’s mindsets, the norms themselves artificially, from above.
Change has to come from inside society. This is why I do workshops at schools, giving a space to kids to express themselves freely or just to sit together and talk about topics that they can’t discuss elsewhere. Those kids, they will talk to their friends, they will talk to their families and this is how real progress is done. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes one step at the time.
If you go and visit small communities you quickly realize that a lot of things haven’t changed. We should never forget how lucky we are to live in countries where society is already more accepting and where the state is here to defend us. But we shouldn’t take this granted and we should never forget that the rights we have now are still dreams for many queer people globally.