• A Conversation with a Viewer

    Date posted: May 27, 2009 Author: jolanta
    She looks at me and then back at the photograph.
    “Is it real?”
    “Yes,” I answer. “It is.”
    “No Photoshop?” she asks.
    No, no Photoshop, no computer involved. All my work is 100-percent analog photography. I do use different films and different ways of development to create extreme contrasts or color changes.
    “Did it hurt?”
    Yes, but I was naïve. I had this concept in my head based on a self-portrait of Catherine Opie.

    Risk Hazekamp

    She looks at me and then back at the photograph.
    “Is it real?”
    “Yes,” I answer. “It is.”
    “No Photoshop?” she asks.
    No, no Photoshop, no computer involved. All my work is 100-percent analog photography. I do use different films and different ways of development to create extreme contrasts or color changes.

    “Did it hurt?”
    Yes, but I was naïve. I had this concept in my head based on a self-portrait of Catherine Opie. It is the one with this image carved onto her back: a child-like drawing in blood of a house, a large cloud, and two mommies holding hands—the “happy lesbian family” in bad weather. She made the work after her relationship ended. I always loved this photo, and I wanted to pay tribute to it. At the same time I wanted to pull it into the current political field. So I asked a friend to carve “NORMAL” on my skin. After that, I walked around with “NORMAL” on my back for at least four months.

    “And the beard?”
    I work with my own hair. Every time I go to the hairdresser, I ask if I can take my hair. It always creates funny conversations. Making the beard took a bit of practice, but now I put it on in five minutes.

    “Ah right, I understand, so the beard is fake.”
    Well, it depends on how you define fake and real. For me this is my real beard, but biologically speaking, you are right. It is constructed; it doesn’t grow by itself, therefore it is a fake beard. But why should your physical gender be real and your mental gender fake?
    Sometimes my biological sex feels like a drag performance. It turns me into a female drag queen. Or faux queen, double drag, bio drag, however you want to call it. Which doesn’t mean that I want to change sex. I’m happy with my body, but I’m not happy with the assumptions and prejudices that go along with it. Most societies are still completely dualistic, no other option than man or woman. I believe in exchange of thoughts, in dialogue, in discussion. I believe in change and crossing borders; I think that constitutes who we are.

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