Beautiful Photo Series Explores How One Person Can Take On Two Genders

Artist JJ Levine speaks about his process and inspiration, and debuts a new photo on BuzzFeed.

1. Alone Time is a photo series by Canadian artist JJ Levine, in which he configures one model into two different genders within the same frame.

“By doubling a single body within one frame,” Levine told BuzzFeed, “I celebrate the human capacity for gender fluidity and call into question the idea of authenticity of gender.”

2. Today, Levine debuts his latest photo in the series on BuzzFeed.

Levine had help with the concept for his newest photo. “In this specific case, I photographed my partner, who requested to appear as pregnant for the female character on one side of the image, and as an expectant father for the other character.”

3. It’s his first new photo in the series since 2009.

The series is politically motivated, set out to convince us that gender is changeable. “Although this specific series is digitally collaged, it is important to note that no gender traits are altered or digitally manipulated — I make my models convincingly ‘pass’ as both male and female using makeup, costume, and gesture and no other means, thus defying the gender binary imperative.”

The project is also personal. “I’m trans, so I think about this stuff all the time in my day-to-day life. I express myself through image making; this focus is just one way that I can convey my ideas about myself and the world and the sometimes-messy intersection of the two.”

“In most cases, I come up with the scenario based on moments from my life that resonate, or a cliché that I think would make an interesting image, or a scenario that a broader audience may be able to relate to,” Levine says. “As for emotions and themes, this work speaks to relationship dynamics and explores an emotional connection to each person and a different version of themselves.”

In fact, Levine only includes people from his personal life in photographs. “This choice allows for comfort and ease during my shoots, and a stronger connection between photographer and subject, which I believe translates into a stronger connection with the viewer.”

JJ was inspired by the iconic drag queen Divine. “I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but in retrospect, I was definitely inspired by a scene from the beginning of John Waters’ Female Trouble in which the protagonist, Dawn Davenport, has sex with Earl Peterson, a creepy guy who picks her up hitchhiking. They do it on a dirty, old mattress on the side of the highway, and the camera cuts back and forth from her face to his. Each wide angle shot captures the front of one and the back of the other — never both faces on screen at the same time, as both characters are played by the very same Divine.”

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