A (Brief) Creative Profile: Gender Studies

I watched Dallas Buyers Club a few weeks ago and loved it. It had everything a girl like me could wish for in a movie–a struggle for human rights, a call to action, a transgender woman, and the 1980s. I loved it before I even saw it and I loved it even more after viewing it. It got me thinking about the fluid nature of sexuality and wondering if any of my children will have a struggle such as the one Rayon had. I sincerely hope that by the time my children are older no one will even think twice about their lifestyles, whatever they happen to be. A girl can dream, can’t she?

In the meantime, a couple of articles passed my desk about the different notions of gender and sexuality. As well, Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching (which got me thinking about the nature of love) so I decided to do a brief profile on a couple of artists who explore gender and relationships in their respective disciplines.

The first artist is Ingrid Michaelson, a New York based singer-songwriter. I don’t know very much about Michaelson, but once I saw her latest video, I was hooked, for more reasons than one. The song is entitled Girls Chase Boys and the video pays homage to Robert Palmer’s 1998 hit Simply Irresistible but with a twist. Instead of the blank faced women as in Palmer’s video, this time it’s both men and women with bored faces and bright lipstick. It’s a catchy sing-along type of song that embraces the fact that love is love, no matter who is chasing whom. It’s definitely on my play and replay and replay list. Here’s a link to the video:

The second artist is a Montreal based photographer named JJ Levine who specializes in portraits. His series, Alone Time, which began in 2007, has the artist photographing a model as both male and female counterparts in a relationship. He has explored this notion of gender transformation and fluidity before in a series of portraits in 2009 entitled Switch in which 2 models playing 4 roles are photographed in traditional prom poses. In an interview, Levine explains his art in the following way:

This concept is intended to raise questions regarding mainstream notions of gender and sexuality. I want my images to challenge the assumption that gender is binary and sexuality is fixed. Our culture puts a lot of weight on two really narrow gender categories, which makes it especially complicated for those of us who don’t fit into that dichotomous system to navigate our day-to-day lives and move through the world with ease.¹

I am uncertain of copyright issues, so I’m afraid to insert a picture of Levine’s but I encourage you to either Google his name or click on one of the links below because his art is really worth seeing. And while you’re looking through Levine’s photos, put Michaelson’s song on replay. The two compliment each other nicely. Enjoy.

Footnotes

1. Nichols, James. “‘Alone Time,’ Photo Series By JJ Levine, Challenges Traditional Notions Of Gender.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/alone-time-jj-levine_n_4133260.html

Further Information on Ingrid Michaelson

http://www.ingridmichaelson.com/

http://romancebeat.com/videos/girls-chase-boys-ingrid-michaelson-defying-gender-stereotypes/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/02/08/ingrid-michaelson-continues-tradition-of-gender-bending-music-videos/

Further Information on JJ Levine

http://jjlevine.ca/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2014/02/10/jj_levine_alone_time_focuses_on_the_gender_binary_in_domestic_settings_photos.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/alone-time-jj-levine_n_4133260.html

http://reelfoto.blogspot.ca/2012/10/jj-levine-gender-switch.html

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