A queer experience: You are seated with your girlfriend, two women at a table, waiting. A straight couple walks into the room and is attended to right away: sir, madam, over here, sir, madam. Sometimes if you do not appear as you are expected to appear, you do not appear. There are many who do not appear under this word couple: sir, madam. the gaze slides over you, as if you are not there. It is not so much about being seen, as about being seen to, having your needs attended to: after all when the sir, madam becomes a question—“Is that sir, or madam?”—you are being seen, your body turned into a spectacle.
– Sarah Ahmed
The series Free Forms by Kitty Blunt was created as a part of the Catchupa Factory residency recently held in Mindelo, Cabo Verde under the guidance of Michelle Loukidis from Through The Lens Collective. Free Forms both as a title and a body of work speaks to the fluid nature of gender and sexual identity. As Kitty expresses, “the concept of being female/woman or male/man has changed so much, and we should be able to express our gender identity or perform our gender role as we wish, not as society wants us to. We are free souls and we can be who we want to be, our body shouldn’t limit us the way we express, the way we act, the way we dress and so on. That being said, gender expression comes in different forms, not just the male and female roles that people were assigned to from the day they were born.”
Commonly formulated misconceptions about gender expression and sexual identity are addressed with Free Forms. Kitty explains in our interview that such common misconceptions include notions that individuals that are not cisgender are queer. “In this way, I chose to work on this project where I have as objective to portray a variety of gender expressions…”
Developed over a period of three weeks, the individuals featured in the series are from Mindelo, Cabo Verde and form a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. With this body of work, Kitty strives to undo prejudice against the LGBTQIA+ community and to shine light on all forms of gender and sexual expression that exist within this space. Photographed in their rooms the individuals depicted reflect glimpses of their most intimate selves. Kitty shares the following important thought that encompasses the message of the body of work, “…not all lesbians are masculine, not all gays feminine, not all gender queers are homosexual.”
Photographed in a raw and beautiful honesty it is hard to believe that Kitty created this body of work in only three weeks. Having seen prior images done by her it is encouraging to see what can be done when a passionate image maker has a story to share. What strikes home about Free Forms is the universality of its message. As queer folk we are often made to feel othered–Free Forms, however, feels like home in its candid and intimate depictions.
…because photographs have such an important role in our lives, it can either bring joy, frustration, sadness, that is, memories that can make you travel through space and time.