A new photography project has something to say about the way we all view our own sex and gender.
Photographer Melody Melamed’s latest revealing series is primarily challenging stereotypes around what it means to be trans.
However, with the ongoing project asking ‘what are sexual and gender norms – and do they really exist?’ – there is a message for us all.
In an interview with Gay Star News, Melamed tells us why she is telling stories about relationships that are beyond the binary in the project ‘Autonomous Marrow.’
The call to action to us all Melamed delivers is; if we all just listen to trans people’s stories more – we’d all have more compassion for those who identify away from gender binaries.
What story does the photography project Autonomous Marrow tell?
Autonomous Marrow is a fairly new project that is still a work in progress. It addresses the idea of gender identity and its correlation to sexuality. But, specifically it looks at the transgender experience.
With this work, I aim to dispel any notion of the social construct that dictates how we perceive sexuality.
The sexuality spectrum is broad, as is the gender spectrum.
Doing this series I have been fortunate enough to hear and learn about being trans from some of the broadest minds I’ve ever met.
They have taught me how to fight for ones-self and will stop at nothing to be who they are.
One thing is blatantly clear to me since starting the project is how much more I have to learn beyond the social fabrication of both heterosexuality and being gay.
There is an incredibly raw, but beautiful nature to the photography – what did you want to capture?
The subjects in my images and the questions being addressed in my work are so raw in nature, unedited and in your face, it only seems fitting that the images feel just as raw and powerful.
There is always a fine line between creating an image that posses a sense of intimacy, rawness, grittiness, yet still maintains its sense of beauty and softness.
I tend to lean into this style of image making, and although it is a style that I’ve developed over time I find that it evokes an emotion that creates a feeling and raises questions.
Whether it is the feeling of anger, sadness or hope, the idea is to make the viewer feel enough to ask a deliberate question, even if just to themselves.
You’re becoming well known for your photography that explores trans and gender fluid people. Why is that an important part of your art?
Although I never intended to become known for any specific kind of work, I’ve always been interested in gender identity.
Whether it was my own, my mothers, or the other women and men around me – gender roles and identities played a huge role in my life and the way I grew up.
At a certain point, when you’re thinking about an idea for a long time, and you are doing a lot of different work and trying to sort of find yourself and your artistic voice, a light goes off somewhere and something just clicks.
That is what it felt like when I started exploring trans identities.
Despite the fact I identify as a cisgender woman – I also very much identify with my masculinity. But escpecially with the idea of fighting for who I am.
That’s the way I relate to the trans experience. And it’s a way that probably most people would if they just took a moment to listen to trans people.
What was it about the model Ericka Hart that drew you to photograph them?
Ericka Hart and I have mutual friends, and it just so happened that she and her partner were willing to pose for me! I was most humbled by their interest, and it turned out to be way too much fun.
Ericka and her partner Ebony are both spectacular people. They stand for all things strong and are both fighters in every sense.
I knew that both of them would add great depth to this body of work.
Not just because of who they are but because of what they stand for.