Dichotomy is not enough
+January 13, 2022
Dichotomies have ruled the way we see each other for a long time; black and white, tall and short, fat and skinny. Our occidental belief system, and a chaotic unconscious set of ideas, have led no place for intervals. No place for the infinite nuances of the cultural spectrum, the richness of being different. The danger of all this is not only on the cutting binary options, but on the subliminal proclamation of one part of the dichotomy being noble and the other one evil. Sex and orientation have not been saved from it. In fact, men and women have become one the most debated dichotomies of our modern times. That is why words such as non-binary tend to shift and detune minds and beliefs. It's challenging to defy a cultural mentality that promotes and expects a one-of-two answer for the question: What are you?
The story of non-conformity has been told many times, but there will never be enough stories to encompass what it means to embrace our identity. This space is dedicated to Anne and Rover, two wonderful souls that met in different times of their lives and created a story about resilience, identity and vulnerability.
Anne Van Zantwijk (@annevanzantwijk), an Amsterdam-based photographer, is an artist that explores different themes such as theatre, gender performativity, and social constructs. She found herself looking for a story to tell: "As if it was meant to be, I saw Ro's story on Instagram: he posted that he would go to the gender clinic soon to start his transition. I just knew I wanted to tell his story through images"
Anne documented Ro, a designated female at birth, about to embrace his true self. She documented Ro before his transition and two years after that. The portraits resulting came in diptics, as a reminisce of time, vulnerability, decisions and courage. Anne's work is transparent, defying time by recreating past moments in the present. As if history was being rewritten, and written again on the same body, Ro's body. You could feel not only the authenticity but the intimacy between mental spaces.
Ro traversed a journey, a physical, mental and spiritual one. A journey that is an everlasting circle, that moves away from mental constraints and comes back to his own essence. Anne herself expressed this journey like this: "The series I made with Ro tells a more personal story on an individual level, but has the same theme of being 'stuck' in a series of expectations that belong to a certain gender, being aware of that and breaking free from it. That's how the title of the series was chosen: it is about coming home, feeling at home in your own gender."
We all need a home, a place where we can feel at ease, peaceful and truly ourselves. There has never been a time with a more prosperous future for all of our differences, to be not just accepted, but celebrated. Anne's series Coming Home, created a space in our collective imaginary, a space for Rover's story. And there lies the power of photography, in its capacity of creating a space that resists time and change. A space that creates infinites possibilities for other voices to be heard. We need to be reminded to free ourselves from a bidimensional mentality and experiment that sexuality, bodies, spirits and life itself is not a two sided coin but a freaking infinite rainbow.
"It´s about coming home, feeling at home in your own gender."