I experience gender through the physical — a fixation on my body and maintaining its presentation in order to reach the “feminine ideal”; a never-ending performance for both the outside world and the voyeur within me. This project, titled Performance of Self, explores the complicated relationship that I’ve formed with my body as a result of this desire for conformity. Furthermore, it is a study of patriarchy as it defines womanhood and black femininity. These intimate images are a reflection of intense dysphoria and disconnect. With the portraiture of both myself and close friends, I attempt to show the shared experience of existing in the body of a gender non-conforming person, as well as the overall experience as someone seeking to transcend.
Vivaluz Austin is an 18-year-old artist from East Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY. As a child of two artists, they’ve spent their entire life immersed in all forms of art including fashion, theater, dance, photography, and music. At present, their work is a reflection of the culture that has surrounded and influenced them from a very young age. Viva is currently a senior in the vocal music program at Edward R. Murrow High School and is a photography student in the yearlong Teen Academy Imagemakers program at the International Center of Photography. Their images explore themes of gender, identity, and womanhood through a personal lens.