Divinity School

Lior Allay

2015 - Ongoing

Brooklyn, New York, United States; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; Detroit, Michigan, United States; Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States; Berlin, Germany; Tampa, Florida, United States; Houston, Texas, United States; Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Burlington, Vermont, United States

This project lies at the intersection of identity, vulnerability, and empathy. It considers the human condition through 3 distinct lenses. As a queer trauma survivor and single mother of an 8-year-old boy, I am interested in solving social issues through storytelling. I travel all over the world to capture stories of people on the LGBTQ spectrum, as well as those of allies who have experienced the toxic effects of rape culture and restrictive gender roles.

The ability to self-identify is a human right. It is crucial to believe people when they tell you who they are. These photographs are of volunteers who wish to be seen. These are silences in the breaking, stories told for the first time, people relieved of their secrets, the divine spark unveiled. In touching the true heart of others we reconnect with ourselves and heal the modern wounds of division and disconnection.

Let us return to compassion. Images show us what is possible. I believe in a utopia beyond gender where people are respected and valued. These are photographs of people who believe it's possible too.

The lenses through which I consider this cultural phenomena are:

1. Vulva Study

Seeking to find visual space for the Vulva that is captured by the female gaze, this intersectional feminist lens exists in an effort to give subjectivity to a part of the body that has been objectified, colonized, and exploited by a patriarchal society for hundreds of years. These portraits aim to neutralize (or castrate) the male gaze, subverting the typical sexualization that occurs in mainstream media representations. Through visual poetry we explore the intimate relationship between womxn and their bodies, the idea of the body as a vessel, and how the feminine is treated in our society.

2. Breaking Binary

In a sea of masked faces the Breaking Binary project aims to reject the modern impulse to make ourselves smaller through over-identification and confronts the viewer with portraits that capture the full and complete essence of human beings in marginalized communities that experience discrimination and/or lack of representation. By elevating the voices of people who fall on the gender or sexuality LGBTQA+ spectrum, I hope to encourage viewers to step outside their judgments and prejudices to experience connection with the humanity that exists in us all.

We can go beyond the binary visions the blind us from Truth by cultivating compassion for those who superficially seem different. This is a visual exploration healing the wound between Self and Other.

3. Masculinity Study

So long as the will to dominate is paramount, love cannot exist. Women are not the only ones who suffer in a patriarchal society ruled by hedonistic consumerism and dishonesty. In submitting to this worldview, both men and women are forced to invest in a false self. For men, there is a choice between Power and Love. When they subscribe to patriarchal social roles, they too suffer. To reject feminism is to reject love and the soft parts of ourselves that acknowledge this as the deepest need, the primal wound around which all life revolves.

This lens is in protest against toxic masculinity, machismo, and the patriarchal regime that enslaves thousands of people all over the world. I seek men who choose a narrative of masculinity that has room for softness, protection, nurturing, and vulnerability.

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  • Vulva Study: Diet for a Small Planet -
    Subject: Selfportrait on 120mm film -
    Houston, TX

  • Breaking Binary: Lilly Looks in the Mirror for the First Time -
    Subject: anon mtf trans femme -
    Detroit, MI

  • Breaking Binary: A Treasure Buried Beneath -
    Subject: David, gay genderfluid human -
    Ashbury Park, NJ

  • Breaking Binary: Soul Fusion -
    Subject: Self-portrait in duo, an anon ally poc & a queer (me) -
    Detroit, MI -

  • Breaking Binary: Photosynthesis -
    All non-binary, genderfluid, and trans humans -
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Masculinity Study: The Weight of Wearing Skin -
    Subject: Gay cis-male -
    Toronto, ON

  • Vulva Study: Kitchen Literacy -
    Subject: pansexual cis-femme 120mm film -
    Staten Island, NYC

  • Masculinity Study: Blindness Holds Back -
    Subject: Straight cis-het-male ally -
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Breaking Binary: Photosynthesis -
    All non-binary, genderfluid, and trans humans -
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Masculinity Study: How to Touch without Touching -
    Subject: Straight cis-het-male ally & immigrant -
    Detroit, MI

  • Vulva Study: Prickly Parts -
    Subject: Queer gender-fluid femme & immigrant poc -
    Brooklyn, NYC

  • Masculinity Study: What Makes a Man -
    Subject: anon cis-het-male-ally poc -
    Tampa, FL

  • Vulva Study: Vortex -
    Subject: anon queer femme -
    Brooklyn, NYC

  • Breaking Binary: How Fairytales Fail Us -
    Subject: pansexual femme & straight cis-het ally (hands) -
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Breaking Binary: Is Beauty All Boxes? -
    Subject: Self-portrait in duo
    straight cis-het female & a queer (me) -
    Montreal, QB

  • Breaking Binary: Blossom -
    Subject: Tahj, mtf trans femme poc -
    Aston, PA

  • Masculinity Study: What it
    Takes to Thaw -
    Subject: Doug, straight cis-het-male ally -
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Breaking Binary: Ecstatic Dance -
    Subject: Self-portrait in duo, two queer femmes -
    Berlin, GRM

  • Vulva Study: An Animal that Bleeds but Does not Die -
    Subject: Queer Jewish lesbian -
    Philadelphia, PA

  • Breaking Binary: Presenting the Penis as Feminine -
    Subject: anon mtf trans femme -
    Detroit, MI