Sevilay Maria: #MYOWNGENDER
#MYOWNGENDER by Sevilay Maria explores the extensive grey zone that exists between man and woman. By retelling the stories of those who defy society’s gender spectrum with every form they fill out and every bathroom visit, #MYOWNGENDER includes all the nuances of gender.
The main element of #MYOWNGENDER is a traveling art installation fusing photography with audio, video, and written word. Thirty-five models that represent their shade of gender are captured on either black or transparent glass through a photography technique from the 1850s, collodion wet plating, and share their story in a short interview. No matter what their pronoun may be. No matter old or young. No matter background or religion. All become an element within a steel construction.
In this construction, Sevilay Maria mirrors the strength of vulnerability, which she found to be present in all of her models. The strength of rewriting the rules of society by showing their true self. Fragile sheets of glass are carried by 2,5-metre-high walls made of imperfect steel. From there on, layers build upon layers. The still images – portraying the models somewhat heroically – upon the movies – observing intimate fragments of life in atmospheric scenes – upon the audio – a direct conversation with the portrayed. As #MYOWNGENDER evolved from a singular art installation into a multimedia story, 35 artists in different fields of work joined Sevilay Maria to complete the project. To capture the full spectrum and all its subtleties, the project involves an exhibition, a book, multiple documentaries, an online platform, a podcast, and an educational program.
As collodion wet plating is known for its unparalleled depth and sheen, Sevilay Maria faced a great challenge when adapting her work to print for the #MYOWNGENDER book. At her request, the printers of robstolk® created a new method to capture the soul of collodion photography on paper. By using three layers of silver ink and one layer of blue ink, the glimmer of a wet plate can be mirrored, while layering the ink through offset printing creates the contrasting highlights found in the portraits. The #MYOWNGENDER book collects the stories and images that were gathered during the project. For them to be retold beyond the limits of an exhibition.
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