how they love (2018-2019)


 

How They Love explores the complexities of performing queer feminine identity in Singapore. Through practice-led ethnography which employs photography and performance as main modes of research, engagement, and representation, the series examines the ways in which romantic partners express desire, as well as the manifestations of their individual identity formation project in the contemporary queer experience.

Central to the research is the notion of performativity, both relating to the tension with the camera as well as the everyday self-actualisation process. Brought into a studio and given an array of wedding props and costumes to choose from, the participants interact with matrimonial tropes and constructed gender roles, resulting in images which align with their vision of self-representation. Projected onto the backdrop are their parents’ wedding portraits, a visual reminder of the heteronormative histories that have shaped many LGBTQ people’s lives, and a juxtaposition to the possibilities they are in the midst of creating. Through the use of the set, as well as the use of dramaturgy in the direction of their portraits, participants confront the way they perform their gendered identities in the everyday.

In creating new imagery of queerness that echoes Jose Esteban Muñoz' idea of queer futurity, the series is an attempt to visibilise and validate narratives that have long been relegated to the margins. The process of engagement is in itself a form of world-making and resistance-forming, blurring the lines between performance and the everyday. The series situates itself not merely as a conceptual exercise, but in, as Judith Butler write, "a desire to live, to make life possible, and to rethink the possible as such."

This series was first initiated through a residency at the Exactly Foundation in 2018, before turning into a thesis project as part of the M.A. in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin.