DEFINE YOUR BEAUTY – Beauty Revisited is an extension of The Gender Portraiture Project bringing together photographic portraits with personal narrative into the context of American material culture and power. I ask participants: “How do you define your own sense of beauty? When you look inside yourself who do you see?” My work confronts society’s displacement of female identity. I am looking to open up possibilities of being. To discover how dominant societal expectations rule our gender. My goal is to have a critical mass of portraits reflecting gender variations and to show how birth, class, family, country of origin and ancestry, personal taste, body type, age and whatever other qualifiers are placed on us affect us. “Gender variations” does not necessarily mean trans, but can also be one’s interpretation of what is feminine or masculine. To think about times when we were awarded or punished in relation to our “appropriate” gender-like behaviors or looks.
In my studio, located in Stenton Guild, (4232-36 Stenton Ave, in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, PA), I have set up a portrait photography studio where people come in to talk about gender and have their portraits taken. I invite the public to share personal stories of gender stereotyping and be photographed. You can pose in your street clothes, an outfit from your personal collection, or we can work together to conceive of the ideal costume.
Stories told by participants are about being stereotyped. What is appropriate behavior in relation to perceived gender? How should we look? What are the expectations depending on class, ethnic heritage, and family background?
Instead of relying on clues relating to dress, one may choose to explore the physical body relating to gender expectations. For many of us attaining the “perfect” body is a symbol for the ultimate gender self. Many struggle with disfiguration and some accentuate what nature gave us. Others make do with what they have. As an artist, I am also looking for people interested in body critique – making commentary on the gender body.
Please email the artist, Laureen Griffin, if you are interested in participating.