Chloe Aftel

2014 - Ongoing

Many people are still entrenched in the binary, believing that what you’re born as is who you are. If you are a man, that is what you are and always will be and being a woman is about genetics, nothing more. I wanted to explore the lives, bodies and experiences of everyday women, what it means to be one now, what that body looks like, how they understand and address sensuality, how that relates to sexuality.

Shot in quintessential American landscapes, these are singles frame movie stills, where the subject is a fully realized character, with needs, desires and actions leading her through the frame, forcing the viewer into a dialogue about preconceived ideas of gender and body politics.

There is an innate sensuality to each image, asking the viewer to consider their own response and what that means. Is being a woman about breasts and a vagina? Is it about how you see yourself? Is it about having XX chromosomes? It is for the viewer to decide, person by person, image by image.

I began shooting female-identified bodies, with a strong focus on trans women, four years ago. The titles do not disclose who was born female and who was not. Featuring women of all ages, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds, this is a purely visual story exploring what gender means and how this femininity manifests itself physically in cinematic locations.

Shot on Kodak medium format film all over the United States, the locations play a crucial role in the imagery. From Seattle to Ohio, New York to New Mexico, the locations are boundless, mirroring back some of the freedom America holds dear, including an individual’s ability to determine their own life.

With minimal retouching, just enough to remove unnecessary blemishes, these are raw moments of tremendous vulnerability in powerful, resonant, American landscapes. Through the subject’s deep knowledge and comfort with themselves, it is a chance for the viewer to, in turn, question and explore themselves.

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