Erotic Shakespeare is a photographic essay using as a point of departure the playwright's characters to explore the realities and complexities of human sexuality from a sociological perspective. The result will be 20 "mise-en scène" images printed in big format depicting diverse sexual identities and relationships, based on real archetypes, and paired up with the fictional personas.
The initial source material will come from 10 different plays that propose diversity in sexual identities. The plays include: As you like it, Richard II, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer night's dream and Twelfth night. Considering Coriolanus, Titus. As an artist I use this source material conscious of its prevalence in popular culture. The texts provide immediate depth and a back-story to each of the characters and identification with the spectator.
The characters are the starting point for the development of the images. The images are not necessarily a narration of the play but a recreation of what the sexual desires of the characters might look like. The photographs do not only depict an intimate act in the sense of sexuality, but they are, more accurately, a psychological portrait of the character and its relationships to other and themselves.
Erotic Shakespeare references its theatrical point of origin by staging every frame as a part of a real performance. A generic set has been created for the series and each time it will be dressed to fit each dramatic reconstruction. The image shows each time a barren room with a window that represents the physical space as well as an abstraction of a mental state. The space is lit with a mix of theatre continuous lighting and photographic flashes. The color palette is in blues to achieve a nigh time, intimate atmosphere.
We use appropriation of late Medieval, Renaissance, and theatre aesthetics to approach our subject in a contemporary manner. The costumes and the props are inspired by these eras without being tied to accuracy.
Erotic Shakespeare is not a project exploiting a puerile interest in sexuality. Quite the contrary it offers an honest and more comprehensive view of sexuality from a psychological and anthropological perspective. This is greatly achieved by the choice of characters and intent in having a diverse cast of in terms of body complexions and ethnicities. This series does not explore "the pornographic", and intercourse is often only suggested and not explicit.
The project provides a counterbalance to the narrow, provocative and often misguided representation of sexuality in pop culture where women are seen as objects, men as hunters, where there's only one model body type, and sex is a commodity and a fairy tale.
TRANSfomation doesn't deal directly with transsexuality but with the intriguing questions that arise from it. Questions about what sex and gender mean and that would be unimaginable without the existence of transsexual bodies.
Trans-bodies are the vessel for asking larger questions about social need to superpose the myths of gender unto the body according to its sex. The process occurs almost seamlessly as long as sex and gender align in a heteronormative and binary way. Destabilization, conscious our unconscious, arises from discrepancies within the anatomy itself and of course its relationship with social norms on gender.
TRANSformation challenges the idea of the seemingly natural concordance between sex and gender: Female equals woman and male equals man, and with it the historical paradigm of biology as destiny.
TRANSformation has a beautiful aesthetic resolution trough the appropriation of the language of figurative painting. It references painters such as Michelangelo and the Mannerists. Using an aesthetic that belongs to the past to speak about contemporary topics it invites us to look at the latter in an historical perspective, and to look retroactively trough Art History for signs of non-conforming depictions of the body (as it is the case of women in the Sistine Chapel).
Exploring the topic trough dancers in movement, the images, shift from being descriptive to being narrative. We are obliged to see the transgendered bodies in context, both social and an historical. Superposing the bodies against the backdrops of Renaissance and Baroque period churches completes this exercise. The technical process by which the images are created and the use of churches (a public space, religion) become a metaphor for the constructed character of gender.
This project strives to suspend the rules and question the myths that oblige us to believe that gender and sex are natural and fixed traits. The purpose of this confrontation with the spectator is to produce conversations that lead to an understanding of gender diversity, as well a way of achieving equality for the sexes that goes beyond narrow binary notion of gender.